Interfaith Vigil in Urbana to Support Undocumented Youth

Bend the Arc:CU, CU Immigration Forum, and CU FAIR held a candlelight vigil February 7, the Alma Mater statue of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in an effort to convince Republican Congressman Rodney Davis to vote for a clean Dream Act.

DACA currently protects nearly 700,000 young “dreamers,” including approximately 40,000 in Illinois. The Cato Institute estimates that deporting all of them will cost the US economy as much $60 billion to the federal government along with a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.

“We have tried stating our case in person to Rodney Davis about immigration,” said Diane Ore, chair of Bend the Arc:CU. “We've tried to tell him that it's cruel and immoral to threaten to deport children and young adults just because their parents brought them here when they were very young, but all he seems to want is a wall and more border security. What we really need is a pathway to citizenship for these young people.”

The vigil, which attracted around 75 people despite the frigid temperatures, was the third of three DACA actions in Champaign within the space of a week. The first action began on February 1 and concluded on February 8, with five faith groups personally visiting Davis' Champaign office to deliver the message that they consider the current DACA debate akin to holding dreamers hostage for political gain.

The groups came from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center, First Presbyterian Church of Champaign, and Bend the Arc:CU.

The second DACA action was a DACA march through downtown Champaign a week earlier that brought out over 200 marchers in support of a clean Dream Act.