Decatur “pilgrims” urge Rep. Rodney Davis to support immigration reform in Taylorville

Members of the Champaign-Urbana Immigration Forum rallied with immigrant leaders and allies Saturday in an attempt to urge Rep. Rodney Davis, R-13, to support immigration reform.

Illinois People’s Action leaders and other individuals from across the 13th district participated in a “two-day walking pilgrimage” from Friday to Saturday, said Jennifer Carrillo, IPA community organizer. The walk, organized by IPA, began at Davis’ office in Decatur, Ill., and ended with a rally at his office in Taylorville, Ill., where walkers, many whom were undocumented, were greeted by immigration groups, including 15 members of the C-U Immigration Forum.

“It’s the same distance that it takes to cross the border in some places, so it’s also a way to honor the people who cross the border to get a better life and the people who don’t make it,” Carrillo said. “We’re honoring our fellow immigrants, but also urging Representative Davis and other members of Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship.”

Carrillo added that Oct. 5 is the National Day of Dignity and Respect, and more than 140 demonstrations were held across the country to support immigrants.

Francisco Baires, a community organizer at C-U Immigration Forum, said the nationwide day of action serves as a way to ask political leaders to halt deportation.

“It’s not just a message to Republicans. It’s not just a message to Rodney Davis. It’s a message to (President) Obama and his administration as well, that they need to stop tearing apart our families (and) stop the deportation,” he said.

Lorenzo Macedo, C-U Immigration Forum member, said he participated out of obligation to his friends and family.

He said his citizenship was legalized after he married a U.S. citizen.

“It’s been great since I’ve become a citizen, but I can’t fully enjoy it because I know there are people very close to me that can’t enjoy it as well,” he said. “I know a lot of people, I have a lot of friends that don’t have it as well — it’s not fair.”

Benito Gomez, of Bloomington, Ill., said he participated in the movement and the rally itself for personal reasons.

“I’m involved because I’ve been through so much mistreatment and humiliation for being an immigrant,” he said in Spanish, which was translated by Carrillo. “After so many injustices, I decided that I needed to figure out a way to create a change, and I couldn’t just be dissatisfied. I needed to actually work to change it.”

He also highlighted the importance of the pilgrimage to Taylorville.

“A pilgrimage is a journey of faith, and it’s a way to show our faith and commitment to the issue, and the faith that we’re going to win,” Gomez said. “We’re on our way to the promised land.”

Eleanor can be reached at [email protected]