My internship began in midst of heated debates on immigration reform. Immigration reform, or rather the lack of reform will have a large impact on the refugee community. Thus during my internship I continually read about developing changes and shifts in the immigration debate as well as focused on specific bills and provisions that pertained to refugees.
After the senate passed their immigration bill on June 28th, like the rest of the country our interest shifted onto the house. I worked to setup meetings with representatives targeted by Illinois Coalition for Refugee Rights (a partnering organization) during the August recces. I was surprised and almost uplifted by the receptiveness of the rep’s staff and offices. Not because they were republican representatives but because of the actual access a citizen had to participatory governance. Perhaps this skepticism came from the work I had done in South Africa were there is absolutely no communication between officials and the public. Regardless, I was impressed that such staunchly conservative offices with clear statements against immigration reform would take the time to meet.