Three faces of immigration

Activists and families gather for the "Million Voices for Immigration Reform" rally in downtown Los Angeles in September 2013. About 3,000 people attended the event.

Photo by William Camargo

Activists and families gather for the "Million Voices for Immigration Reform" rally in downtown Los Angeles in September 2013. About 3,000 people attended the event.

President Obama late last year announced a plan to offer administrative relief to some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. About 5 million are expected to qualify. Almost 500,000 undocumented immigrants live in Illinois, about 180,000 in Chicago, according to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

The Chicago Reporter spoke to three Chicago residents with a lot at stake in the immigration debate. Here are their stories:

Eva Urbina Ortiz

Eva Urbina OrtizAge 42 | Durango, Mexico

Children: A daughter named Yanichel Moreno

Years in the United States: 30

Why did you come to the United States?: “My father, who was already here, brought me, my mother and brothers from a rural area in Durango. He wanted all of us to have a better future and to get out of the poverty back home.”

What is your current situation in the United States?: “There was no law [that allowed] me to become a resident or citizen, so maybe with the announcement, I can get a work permit.”

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?: “The plan is to stay in the United States and give my daughter an opportunity to go to the universities here. I have all my family here, so returning back isn’t an option.


Virgilio Hernandez Garcia

VirgioliovHernandez GarciaAge 53 | Iguala, Mexico

Children: None

Years in the United States: 24

Why did you come to the United States?: “I came to Chicago because of the poverty in the rural area where I lived. I worked a lot for not much money. Before heading to Chicago I was working in Tijuana for around 6 months before the work ran out. I had an uncle here, and he told me to head to Chicago for work. I worked at a tire company when he first arrived, and I am still working in the same place in the same company.”

What is your current situation in the United States?: “When I left, I traveled with 27 people, including about 6 women. I got caught about 3 times, before making my way to Los Angeles, then Chicago. I’m working here.”

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?: “I want to get back the home I was renting but I couldn’t afford it and lost it. But without papers I can’t [get it back], at least now. Maybe in the future.”


Leonarda Rosendo

Leonarda RosendoAge 46 | Olinala, Mexico

Children: None

Years in the United States: 14

Why did you come to the United States?: “To work and live a bit better, because none of my family had much money.”

What is your current situation in the United States?: “Years of working in the shadows, but I have received help from immigrant rights groups … hopefully Obama helps the people who don’t qualify, before he leaves office, because we are all fighting to stay.”

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?: “My dreams are learning English, but also helping other immigrants. I remember the many times I was taken advantage of at work and not getting paid many days. I don’t want that to happen to other people. We have to help each other.”