Making Chicago the Most Immigrant-Friendly City (For Real)

Since June 2015 OCAD has been one of the community groups creating a plan for the city of Chicago to improve services and protections for immigrant communities. Below is the press release from the release of the 6-point plan.

City Council Members to Propose Comprehensive Immigrant Integration Plan, Make Chicago Leader Nationwide

New Working Group Announces 6 Point Plan Addressing Language, Representation, Safety, and Access to Relief Programs

On Tuesday, August 18th, the Chicago Immigration Working Group comprised of 14 non-governmental and community organizations with the expressed support of Aldermen Rosa, Muñoz, Alderwoman Garza announced their Comprehensive Immigrant Integration Plan. The 6 point plan addresses issues of language access, legal representation, public safety, and the affordability of relief programs.

“Chicago is a place that’s always understood itself to be a city of immigrants,”Ana Guajardo, executive director of the south-side based Immigrant Worker’s Project / Centro de Trabajadores Unidos. “With a mayoral promise to make Chicago the most welcoming, a city council dedicated to equal treatment for all of our residents, and leadership from the community itself, we are ready to not just follow the examples of New York City and other places but to be a leader in best practices for immigrant integration at the local level.”

Having introduced the results of extensive consultation with community representatives, the working group will now translate its recommendations into legislative language to be introduced in city council in the months to come.

The six point plan will:

  • Increase support for pro bono legal representation in Chicago’s immigration courts
  • Amend the “Welcoming City” Ordinance to apply to all residents and ensure consistency between municipal and county policy
  • Assure language access for city emergency services
  • Create a municipal ID available to all Chicago residents
  • Convene stakeholders to make deferred action relief programs accessible and affordable to city residents
  • Improve access to city services for immigrant survivors and victims of crimes and rights violations

Alderman Carlos Rosa of the 35th Ward adds, “We’re excited and ready at city hall to work alongside Chicago’s leading immigrant groups to turn these proactive solutions into legislation that will make our city the most immigrant-friendly in the United States.”

Despite the strong standard Chicago holds for immigrant inclusion, the group cited cases like that of Rafael Robles, a Chicago entrepreneur who would’ve been deported had it not been for access to legal counsel, as reason for urgency in quickly turning their plan from proposal to policy.

“When I was detained by immigration because I didn’t have the right papers, finding a lawyer to help me navigate the immigration court system made the difference between being deported away from my family to a country I barely knew, and being able to stay in Chicago, finish college, and pursue my dream of being a real estate developer. Chicago is my home, and I’m one of thousands of Chicagoans who are proof that supporting immigrant communities and families makes our city stronger.”

Read the details of the plan here

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