Immigration activists campaign to get out the vote
By Antonio Olivo
October 8, 2008
During the next four weeks, Immigration activists plan to swarm through nearly 700 Chicago-area neighborhoods, visiting some homes several times in a $1 million effort to pull at least 140,000 voters into the polls for the Nov. 4 elections, organizers announced Tuesday.
The campaign, involving about 2,500 volunteers, is part of an aggressive last push across the country to sway the result of the presidential race and several congressional contests in the direction of Immigration reforms.
“This is a serious campaign,” said Juan Salgado, president of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which is coordinating the effort. “We have an agenda that’s about democracy and living the best ideals of what this country is about.”
As the period for registering to vote in Illinois came to an end Tuesday, activists at the news conference inside Daley Plaza displayed a 6-foot-high stack of about 25,000 registration forms signed in the last three months in what was the first phase of their plan to influence the elections.
The next phase will also feature nearly 350,000 live and automated phone calls, 172,000 pieces of mail and intensive lobbying of voters to make a stand for Immigration reform, Salgado said.
A newly created political arm that will operate separately from the non-profit coalition will target voters in the 10th Congressional District, where North Shore Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) faces a tight election, and the 11th Congressional District, where southwest suburban voters must decide on the successor to Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.)
Other groups plan to hold candidates forums before the election in communities with large immigrant populations.
“We’re not going to just vote. We’re going to commit and engage with our officials,” said Inhe Choi, interim director of the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center in Chicago. “We need to. Things have to change.”