Following a Two-Year Campaign, Community Leaders Strengthen Protections for Immigrants
A coalition of immigrant rights organizations welcomed the Chicago City Council’s passage of an amendment to strengthen the Welcoming City Ordinance today. While this action is a testament to a two-year campaign to further protect immigrants the coalition recognizes the need to support community-led efforts to assure real solutions to the problem of police misconduct and violence against communities of color.
The amendment to Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance, approved by City Council Wednesday morning, will prohibit all City employees, including Chicago Police officers, from questioning an individual’s immigration status and threatening deportation. The amendment also re-defines coercion and verbal abuse to include verbal threats, barring city employees from compelling a person to make statements, and making such behavior subject to disciplinary action by an independent review authority.
While the passage of the amendment calls for celebration, more work remains to be done, coalition members said.
“This is an important win for Chicago immigrant communities, but how and whether it is enforced also depends on whether the right policies are in place on police accountability,” said Van Huynh of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. “Because the Black community is disproportionately impacted by police misconduct and excessive use of force, we will continue to work with the leadership of Black community advocacy organizations around police accountability matters.”
The amendment passed Wednesday is the result of Asian American community organizing against an incident of police brutality caught on video, showing Chicago Police Department officers physically and verbally abusing Jessica Klyzek, a Chinese American woman. However, in the last two years, immigrant rights organizations have pushed for greater protections for immigrants in Chicago by strengthening the Welcoming City Ordinance and further separating the interaction between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement officials.
In addition to the continued work on police accountability, the groups also call attention to the work to be done to address the relationship between the City of Chicago and immigrants. “There are still Chicagoans who remain excluded from protections under the Ordinance,” added Tania Unzueta of Organized Communities Against Deportations, “We still have questions about cooperation during immigration raids, and like much of Chicago, questions about real police accountability.
The passage of the amendment was a joint effort between members of Chicago City Council, including Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), Progressive Reform Caucus Chair Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) and Ald. Ameya Pawar (47), with the support of the Latino Caucus, the Asian American Caucus, and the Progressive Caucus, and more than a dozen immigrant rights organizations, many of them part of the Chicago Municipal Immigration Policy Working Group.
The members of the Chicago Municipal Immigration Policy Working Group include Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Organized Communities Against Deportations, Southwest Organizing Project, the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center, Chicago Community and Worker’s Rights, the Chicago Religious Leadership Network, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos – Immigrant Workers Project, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Latino Union of Chicago, Enlace Chicago, Communities United, United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Logan Square Neighborhood Association