By Laura Katauskas
Perhaps in its most tumultuous year to bring awareness of the celebrations of the immigrant, the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project is preparing for a festival that is expected to draw thousands.
The SSIP will be hosting the 7th annual Day of the Immigrant from 2 to 11 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Bolingbrook Performing Arts Center, 375 Briarcliff Road. A family fun event, a resource fair, kids’ activities, live music, folkloric ballet performances, beer garden, and food will round out the festival.
The event is designed to strengthen the voices of the immigrant community living in the southwest suburbs in Will and DuPage Counties.
Jose Vera, executive director of SSIP, is a graduate of Bolingbrook High School and a “Dreamer,” one of many undocumented immigrants in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, has been working to build the event each year.
The Day of the Immigrant was first celebrated in 2010. A small grassroots efforts initiative, the SSIP first began with a march through downtown Naperville to bring attention to the need for comprehensive immigration reform and ended with a day of community service.
The event and organizers have not shied from their original mission, and have expanded it expeditiously, now being seen as a “powerhouse” in the southwest suburbs with more than 10,000 attendees at last year’s event.
This year’s event will continue to support SSIP’s mission of community organizing for the rights of immigrants in Chicago’s southwest suburbs through education, civic engagement, and advocacy.
In light of recent events, the SSIP also is hosting an informational meeting: The Future of DACA from 6:30 to 8 p.m. tonight, Sept. 14 at St. Dominic Church, 440 E. Briarcliff Road, Bolingbrook. There will be immigration attorneys present, ready to answer any questions in addition to information about joining the group.
Last year, nearly 10,000 came out for the Day of the Immigrant hosted by the SSIP.