Durbin, Gutierrez, Foster, Johnson Discuss Federal Deportation Policy With Community Leaders

[CHICAGO] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-04), U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL-11) and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson today met with Chicago community leaders and immigration advocates to discuss federal policy regarding deportations.  At President Obama’s direction, Johnson is currently leading the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a thorough review of those policies which is expected to conclude in August.


Johnson is visiting Illinois at Durbin’s request to learn more about the local impact of his agency’s policies.  Earlier today, Durbin, Gutierrez, Foster and Johnson also toured the Broadview Immigration Detention Center to talk with individuals awaiting imminent deportation.


“I’ve seen firsthand the suffering caused by deportations,” Durbin said.  “I asked Secretary Johnson to come to Illinois to tour Broadview Detention Center, an experience that greatly informed my understanding of the issue when I first visited.  The pain felt by those individuals and their families is vast and not easily shaken by those of us who have witnessed it firsthand.  I also wanted him to sit down with some of Chicago’s most involved, passionate and thoughtful local immigration advocates so they could offer input on the ongoing review firsthand and at the highest level.  I look forward to continuing to work with him to make our country’s approach to deportations more just and humane.”


“The facts remain the same: too many families being broken up, too many deportations, too much detention, too few legal immigration avenues, and too little sense of urgency in Washington among House Republicans,” Gutierrez said.  “We still have a window to pass sensible border security and immigration reform legislation, but Republicans must act soon or the President will have no choice but to take action within existing law.”


“I’ve always been a supporter of immigration reform, but seeing the ramifications of our broken system at the Broadview Detention Center this morning was a heartbreaking reminder of why we need to keep up the fight,” said Foster.  “Our broken deportation system is needlessly tearing families apart. We cannot wait any longer. We must pass comprehensive immigration reform now. Next week I hope House Republicans will appoint new leaders who are ready to listen to the millions of voices calling for action.  From businesses leaders, to religious leaders, to law enforcement, the call has never been louder: Congress must take action and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”


In addition to Durbin, Gutierrez and Johnson, today’s meeting was attended by:

  • Sister JoAnn Persch, Sister of Mercy
  • Elena Segura, Archdiocese of Chicago
  • Mary Meg McCarthy, National Immigration Justice Center
  • Sylvia Puente, Latino Policy Forum
  • Veronica Castro, Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights
  • Maria Pesqueira, Mujeres Latinas en Accion
  • Yesenia Sanchez, PASO
  • Raul Raymundo, The Resurrection Project
  • Royal Berg, Immigration Attorney
  • Oscar Chacon, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities
  • Billy Lawless, Celts for Immigration Reform
  • Juan Salgado, Instituto del Progreso Latino
  • Rosi Carrasco, Latino Organization of the Southwest
  • Tuyet Le, Asian Americans Advancing Justice


During Johnson’s Senate confirmation process last year, he and Durbin met to discuss federal deportation policy and other immigration issues.  Following that meeting, Durbin wrote Johnson urging him to prevent DHS from using numerical deportation quotas and to work with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement leadership to ensure that the agency focused on deporting serious criminals and national security threats rather than low-priority cases.  The letter also asked Johnson to regularly visit detention centers like Broadview.  In response, Johnson wrote that he does not believe numerical deportation quotas are a good idea and would indeed focus on high-priority deportation cases.