Watch CBS News

After migrants granted work permits, similar help sought for undocumented people in Illinois

Advocates argue for work permits for 500,000 undocumented Illinois residents
Advocates argue for work permits for 500,000 undocumented Illinois residents 02:17

CHICAGO (CBS) – President Joe Biden recently decided to provide a fast track for newly arrived Venezuelan migrants to work in the U.S. legally.

On Monday, a group rallied in Pilsen to ask that the same benefit be extended to others. CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey had more on the demands for the nearly half a million undocumented people already living in Illinois.

Last month, the Biden administration announced it would grant nearly half a million Venezuelan migrants temporary protective status, which will allow them to live and work in the U.S. legally for up to 18 months. But there were already roughly 511,000 undocumented workers living in Illinois who said they've been left behind.

Laura Mendoza, an immigration organizer for the Pilsen-based Resurrection Project, said they're calling on the federal government to provide the same benefits to undocumented people already living in the country.

"The U.S. citizen kids who have paid taxes, who have done everything we were told we needed to do in order to even be thought of for a benefit, and still, we don't have a benefit," Mendoza said.

Chicago has received over 17,000 new arrivals since August of 2022, but Chicago already had an undocumented population of roughly 180,000.

Illinois advocates call for work permits for undocumented residents 02:23

And rallies like Monday's are part of a nationwide push to allow undocumented immigrants an easier path to be able to work.

That includes Estella Gamino.  

"Not just for us, but for everyone who has been working hard for so many years," said Gamino.

Although she is a mom of six American citizens, she's been fighting for the same right to work for more than 30 years.

"Now that the president said 'yes' to all these people, why can't he say 'yes' with us?" said Gamino. "We've been contributing for so long. We've been paying taxes."

A big focus of Monday's rally was an Oct. 12 rally planned for the same spot, 18th and Paulina, where advocates will also ask for more work permits. A group of Chicagoans are then planning to attend a national rally in Washington, D.C. on the topic coming up in November.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.