Alderman Joe Moreno’s 1st Ward First organization hosted U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, who is running for re-election in November, at their meeting June 28 where more 65 people were in attendance.
Upon arrival, Durbin, majority leader of the U.S. Senate since 2007, opened up with the topic of immigration reform and the DREAM Act, of which he was an original sponsor. Durbin referred numerous times to his Lithuanian-immigrant mother and her influence on him.
The senator pointed to the one-year anniversary of the passage of comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. Senate. The immigration reform package, however, remains in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where, presumably, it gathers dust.
“That bill (S. 744) was agreed to by democrats and republicans, it was a bi-partisan bill. there were eight of us who sat down to write this bill, to change the immigration laws in America. We went at it for months, and we finally got this agreement,” Durbin says. “Over a period of 13 years—it’s not fast—these folks are registered, and will be on a path to citizenship. And during that period of time continue to work, continue to live, buy a home. Do the things you want to do, raise your children right, that’s what the bill says.”
Durbin also touched on raising the minimum wage and dealing with unemployment.
After stating that he does favor raising minimum wage, Durbin received a lengthy applause and verbal agreement from the crowd. He continued on stating his opposition to corporations and businesses taking tax breaks to leave the U.S. and station their headquarters in other countries.
Durbin says last week he met with the CEO of a company currently headquartered in Chicago who wants to take business to another country for an attractive tax break.
“Well, I got a bill that will change the law, change the tax break,” he says. “It says if you keep your company in the US, if you will pay your employees at least $14 to $15/hour, if you’ll give them good health insurance, if you’ll contribute at least 5% of their income to their retirement, if you’ll give a preference to veterans coming home from war, we’ll give you a tax break, a good one, a solid one. And we’re going to take it away from companies who want to move over seas.”
There was an overwhelming agreement with Durbin’s statements as he also addressed issues including student loan debt, the likelihood of a national minimum wage increase (not a strong likelihood), and public education.