Immigration Reform's Newest Odd Couple: a Michigan Wolverine and a WHAT?!

OFA Audience

April 25, 2013: OFA Chicago Mid-Northside CIR Panel

One of the fundamental themes of comprehensive immigration reform 2013 has been its ability to bring together the unlikeliest of pairs. By now, the idea of labor and business shacking up in support of immigration reform is old news. Likewise, we have all grown accustomed to Senators Schumer and McCain praising each other for their commitment to immigration reform. For that matter, Democrats and Republicans have been crossing the aisle to push for immigration reform, and not just in the Senate. Recently we saw one such example as Representatives Luis Gutierrez and Paul Ryan met in Chicago to join forces in support of immigration reform.

And the latest in the line of unlikely pairs? Well, I would be half of that equation, as I, a Michigan Wolverine, teamed up with...a Buckeye, yes, of all people a Buckeye. Before you start quoting Bo, allow me to explain.

Thanks to Twitter, I crossed paths with the Chicago Mid-Northside Chapter of Organizing for Action, a grassroots nonprofit organization established to support the President in enacting the national agenda Americans voted for on Election Day 2012. Among the issues are the environment, gun control, and immigration. The last issue caught my eye when perusing the OFA Chicago Mid-Northside Chapter's tweets (@OFAChicagoNorth) because it was preparing to host a panel discussion on immigration reform. I began exchanging tweets and emails with a woman from the Chapter named Agnes, who was planning the immigration reform panel discussion. She was extremely enthusiastic and quick with her responses. As it turned out, I was eventually invited to moderate the panel. I was honored.

It was clear that Agnes was working diligently to organize the event. Based on the tweets and emails we continued to exchange in the week leading up to the event, I quickly learned that Agnes had the rare gift of matching my ability to burn the midnight, make that 1:00 a.m., oil. I appreciated her efforts, and saw that I had found an ally in immigration reform. And just when I thought all in the world was right, I learned that she was an Ohio State Buckeye. Images of that dreadful school clashing with my beloved University of Michigan flooded my mind: Bo and Woody refusing to cross midfield, Charles Woodson and David Boston fighting, Desmond striking the Heisman. I must admit, the news about Agnes did give me pause, but I decided to continue in my commitment to moderate the panel.

On April 25th, the OFA Chicago Mid-Northside Chapter held an engaging panel discussion on immigration reform. The panelists were excellent and covered a wide range of topics regarding immigration reform with information that was extremely detailed yet manageable. The panelists included:

  • Alderman Proco Joe Moreno, Chicago City Councilman for the 1st Ward
  • Laura Lonneman, Housing and Policy Manager at RefugeeOne
  • Sarah Travis, Community Resource Specialist at United African Organization
  • Linus Chan, staff attorney with the Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic at DePaul University College of Law
OFA Panel

The OFA Immigration Panel

The discussion focused on the Senate's pending immigration reform bill. Given the panelists' perspectives and various areas of expertise, we managed to address the potential effects on undocumented immigrants, their U.S. citizen and permanent resident families, refugees and asylees, detainees, and future immigrants. The discussion was lively, as was the question and answer period. The audience turnout and responses were encouraging. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we could answer all the questions, but I think that was a good sign of an engaged and invested audience.

OFA with Agnes

A Wolverine and a Buckeye all smiles

After the event, Agnes was all smiles. Handshakes all around. Photos of the panelists were taken. iPhone camera flashes were blinding. The event was a success. I was happy to have played a part and helped Agnes pull off a great discussion.

While yes, the Michigan and Ohio rivalry – in my opinion the best in sports – spawned the Ten-Year War. And yes, many of my fellow Wolverines out there would be up in my grill, singing that greatest of fight songs, "The Victors." And yes, the folks from Ohio would relish reminding me of their 12-0 football season last year. (Just don't forget the *). And yes, Bo did say, "The Team, The Team, The Team."

However, I would like to point out that Agnes and I are on the same team, maybe not on the football field - but in support of immigration reform. Just as Senators Schumer and McCain, Representatives Gutierrez and Ryan, and labor and business realized - sometimes there are issues that defy the rivalries, that are so compelling that the strongest of opponents bury their differences and become unified. That has been, and continues to be, the power of immigration reform. It has defied odds in bringing together the unlikeliest of pairs to join in support of the DREAMers, the undocumented, and the changes needed to make good on the promise of America.

Lastly, I would just like to add:

Go Blue!

Go #CIR13!

(Photo credits to @ChicagoNW_OFA and @OFAChicagoNorth.)