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Illinois Immigrants Expected to Vote in Record Numbers

November 4, 2008

Chicago, IL - More immigrant voices than ever will be heard in today's election. Immigration reform advocates are mobilizing record numbers of immigrants to get to the polls in order to build support for immigration reform.

Joshua Hoyt, executive director of The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says they are seeing incredible interest from the immigrant community in this year's election.

"Our organization has registered 25,000 new citizens to vote and we've also worked to mobilize 144,000 immigrants to come to the polls and participate in our democracy."

Hoyt says they are helping eligible, legal, permanent residents learn English and become U.S. citizens. They also work to help them exercise their right and responsibility, as citizens, to vote. He says immigrants in Illinois are participating more and more in the political process.

"They want their family members who are not legal to be able to come in from out of the shadows. We need to create one America that includes immigrants and allows people to get on the ladder towards the American dream."

Opponents of such reform say people shouldn't be rewarded for breaking or helping people break the law. Advocates say providing a pathway to citizenship is a moral and practical solution to a complicated issue.

Hoyt feels voters should demand just and fair immigration policies that recognize the contributions of immigrants to this country.

"This is a diverse country, this is a diverse state and immigrants are going to make sure that they are respected by fully participating in our democracy."

Hoyt says more than eight percent of the citizens in Illinois were born in a foreign nation.

Mary Kuhlman/Elizabeth Grattan, Public News Service - IL