Chicago – With a call to "be patient and be careful," U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez and pro-immigrant groups announced Tuesday a national information campaign about the significance of the Department of Homeland Security's new deportations policy.
The first forum will be held Sept. 10 at Chicago's Benito Juarez High School, where the Illinois Democrat will be able to provide the first-hand information he expects to obtain next week at a meeting with John Morton, director de Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Gutierrez discussed the information campaign in a press conference at the Chicago headquarters of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
While the DHS decision to review the cases of 300,000 people in the process of deportation is "not everything we asked for," it does represent progress "after so much bad news," the lawmaker said.
According to the new guidelines conveyed to the offices of ICE, people with no serious criminal records, with members of their immediate families who are American citizens or who have lived in the country from a very young age, will be considered low-priority cases and will be taken off the deportation list.
Gutierrez warned, however, that this is not an amnesty nor is it a legalization program that undocumented immigrants can sign up for.
He said that ICE is continuing its usual work and in particular is sticking to its controversial programs of Secure Communities and 287(g), under which local police share detainees' fingerprints with the federal government.
"To the community we are saying, 'Be patient and be careful.' We do not want you to fall victim to false promises and those who would exploit your hopes and fears for profit," Gutierrez said, mentioning the possibility that "unscrupulous" lawyers could offer them a magic solution.
He also stressed that undocumented migrants not currently facing deportation should not give themselves up to the authorities thinking that they will then be able to apply for a work permit.
Present at Tuesday's press conference were families that could benefit from the new policy, one with an 18-year-old recent high school graduate entering university despite being undocumented.
"Thank you, President Obama, though we know that you can do a lot more for us," Giselle Hernandez said.
National Guard Spc. Hector Nuñez thanked Obama as commander in chief for having allowed his wife Rosa to return to Chicago from Mexico with their ill son at the end of December.