May Day march for immigration reform

By Joe Bennett

May 1, 2013 Updated May 1, 2013 at 9:42 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Illinois People's Action wants American citizens to be more educated on the struggles of all immigrants trying to earn citizenship.

"What they are trying to do is be good to their families, be hard-working people,” says Susi Rubi with Illinois People’s Action. “They're just economic refugees, a lot of them."

Pastor Adrian Garcia at First United Methodist Church once worked in American agriculture.

He says most people are ignorant to the struggles of immigrants, especially Hispanic Latinos.

"They don't even talk to them most of the time, specifically those who are low-income families,” according to Garcia. “I mean it's like they are living in the shadows, and nobody recognizes their work, even in the farm work.

Congressman Aaron Schock, a Republican from the 18th District, says he is sympathetic for seasonal employees seeking work on American farms, and he is concerned for the youth of families who migrated here as well as skilled engineers who are attracted to business in the U.S.

He says part of the proposed Senate bill sends the correct message to those living here illegally.

"That if you come here illegally, if you come here and break our laws, that you will be punished,” Schock says. “And it will take you longer to get your citizenship than if you did it the right way."

Eliminating that back log of people trying to get in to America legally is something on which the Illinois People's Action and Congressman Schock agree.

"But also have a system for future flow,” Rubi adds. “I think that's something we can agree on, but we need to recognize that the people who enter illegally are entering illegally because it's a broken system, not because they are criminals."

Congressman Schock says he remains optimistic that congress can pass a satisfactory bill that mends the fractures of what everyone we spoke with is calling a broken system.