Although they may not be the first group of Illinois residents considered to provide advice on complex immigration issues, students at a middle school in Wheeling recently created their own immigration reform proposals to local elected officials. These students, many of whom are immigrants themselves, offered personal insights into state and federal lawmakers.

Some of the topics discussed at the meeting with policymakers included the "DREAM Act" and ways to handle immigration in the American Southwest. Specifically, students weighed in on whether or not young people should be granted legal resident status in exchange for military service or pursuing a college education. At times, the students even disagreed with current proposals.

An interesting suggestion provided by students was to open an "Ellis Island Southwest," a hub for immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to come to the country safely and legally. This was one aspect of a broader set of recommendations to help streamline the current immigration system.

In the coming months, it's expected that immigration reform will be a source of frequent discussion at all levels of government. The hope is that the reform will help accommodate the needs of many families who already consider the Chicago area to be their home.

Although this was part of a classroom experience for students, many of these children to understand how complex and frustrating the current immigration system is. Students may be going through process of obtaining an adjustment of status or their parents may be undocumented immigrants. Whatever the case, changes may be coming to current immigration law, and it may be helpful for Illinois families to understand how reforms could affect their current situation.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "School children propose immigration reform to national, local politicians," Sally Ho, April 5, 2013

  • Our firm has experience helping families understand their options under current immigration laws. To find out more, please visit our Chicago immigration page.