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Current Issue Campaigns and Impact

United Power recently made progress on a number of issue fronts:


New Immigrants and New Institutions

  • Secure Communities In May, Governor Quinn ended Illinois' participation in the deeply flawed "Secure Communities" program. Secure Communities is a federal program meant to deport immigrants guilty of serious crimes that instead has resulted in the deportation of immigrants with no criminal record or with minor offenses. Arturo Gonzales of Interfaith Leadership Project highlighted this issue at our assembly with the Governor last fall as he handed Governor Quinn a "dream catcher" that had caused the arrest of an undocumented driver.
  • MECCA, Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America, was granted a zoning permit from DuPage County after a grueling nine month process. The petition was initially denied based on “religious over saturation”. Leaders from DuPage United joined MECCA in meeting with every county board member and organizing broad teams of support for County Board meetings.

Reflecting on the experience at United Power’s April 3rd Assembly in Oak Park, MECCA Member, Hani Atassi said “Working with leaders from DuPage United on this issue made me realize that the MECCA issue was no longer a Muslim specific issue but a social issue important across all religious denominations. Our faiths share common values. MECCA members learned that we don't just care about our issue, we also care about the work of United Power and DuPage United on affordable and accessible housing, Secure Communities and affordable health care.”

School Safety

  • Chicago International Charter School, West Belden Campus recently joined United Power. On June 3rd, in the school cafeteria, a group of 46 parents met with Alderman Deborah Graham of the 29th Ward to ask for safety improvements around the school: new street lights, safe school signs, speed bumps, and changing a two way street into a one way. Alderman Graham has since committed to new safe school signs and the one-way street designation. The leaders will push for budget allocations of the remaining items in addition to establishing a relationship with 37th Ward Alderman Emma Mitts who also shares a portion of the schools’ boundary in her ward.

Political Reform

  • With our sister organizations in Lake and DuPage Counties United Power recruited a list of 124 leaders to serve on state level boards and commissions. Governor Quinn has appointed 15 of our leaders and agreed to appoint another 20.
  • We also collected over 15,000 signatures for a “Fair Map” process to create more competitive legislative districts. Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn pledged to see that the principles of the Fair Map campaign are incorporated into whatever legislative map is approved. The Fair Map campaign also brought United Power into dialogue with key Republican Party leaders including State Senator Christine Radogno and State Representative Tom Cross, as well as with the League of Women Voters, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois AARP, the Illinois Farm Bureau, and many reform groups.
  • We participated in the Responsible Budget Coalition and continue to work to insure that the state of Illinois adopt necessary cuts in spending and develop a fair and progressive system of taxation.

Leadership Development

  • The Illinois IAF organizations – United Power, Lake County United and DuPage United – hosted a regional 5-day intensive leadership training. The seminar was co-sponsored by the ELCA Metro Chicago Synod, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, and the ELCA Office for Congregation Based Organizing. 54 trainees came together from our local Illinois organizations in addition to leaders from our IAF affiliates in Milwaukee, Virginia and Germany. The week of training covered the core universals of power, self-interest and leadership used in our broad-based organizing in addition to first-hand experience with key tools of organizing such as the individual meeting. Trainees also attended two actions, one organized by Progress Center for Independent Living and the other by DuPage United. Plans are being finalized to repeat the training in June of 2012.