Reporting Nancy Harty
CHICAGO (CBS) – Some north suburban students shared their ideas for immigration reform with lawmakers Thursday morning.
WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, after 2nd graders from Riley Elementary in Arlington Heights recited facts about the history of immigration in the U.S., some 7th graders took the stage at London Middle School in Wheeling.
The group of about a dozen students – many of whom are immigrants themselves, or children of immigrants – outlined their proposals before their peers and politicians.
They would like to see the federal government establishing a new facility along the Mexico border that would act as a modern day Ellis Island, as a way to encourage legal immigration.
“Our plan is to have them sign up, and then deal with the consequences later,” one student said.
“They’re kind of scared, or they have a fear of being here, because they could be caught or brought back,” another student said.
The students proposed, after registering with the government and passing a background check, immigrants would have to learn English and take a citizenship test. If they could not pass, they would have to go back to their home country, but could try again in six months.
For those 11 million immigrants in the U.S. without legal permission, they also would have to pay a fine.
Teacher Ali Friedman said her students offer a fresh perspective to a divisive issue.
“They have that open mindset, and they’re able to have a clearer picture, sometimes, than adults are,” she said.
Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said she was thrilled to hear the proposals, and she gave the kids homework – telling them to write their lawmakers to share their opinions and ideas about immigration.
“Some of their issues, it was kind of interesting, because they didn’t always agree, but they were able to present on both sides of the argument,” she said.
Duckworth told students of her own immigration story – how her mother had to wait in Thailand for a year before joining her family in the U.S. when she became a citizen.