Hundreds of Immigrant and Refugee Leaders Gather to Demand Protective Legislation from Elected Officials

March 4, 2017
Sophie Vodvarka
Communications Coordinator
(773) 294-4909

Leaders hold elected officials accountable by demanding just treatment and safe spaces for all people living in Illinois and America

CHICAGO, IL — March 4, 2017) Today over 500 immigrant and refugee leaders gathered at the 2017 Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Summit: The Road to a Welcoming Illinois to hold elected officials’ feet to the fire around a unified plan of resistance and action.

The past several weeks have seen unprecedented threats to immigrants and refugees from the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, with executive orders disrupting the lives of millions, threatening mass deportation, and attempting to bar refugees. Locally, Governor Rauner has zeroed out all refugee and immigrant service funding in his most recent proposed budget, while legislative leaders at all levels of government have been introducing pro-immigrant and refugee policies to push back against the national trend of xenophobia.

At the summit, coalition leaders upheld their prior commitments and expanded upon a declaration from this January’s Rally for Resistance, the Platform for Resistance, Unity and Respect to advance state and federal policy solutions based on treating everyone equally regardless of where they worship. 

“Our Summit is about fighting for basic human rights,” said Itedal Shalabi of Arab American Family Services, one of the main organizers of the Summit. “Our legislators need to understand that their constituencies are speaking loud and clear: Keep families together, allow refugees to seek asylum in the US, and strengthen welcoming community policies. We will continue to resist through mass mobilizations like the extremely successful airport rallies in January. We are here to stay.”

Coalition partners obtained many victories, winning commitments to protect the immigrant and refugee community from several elected officials. The day also served as a call to action to deploy hundreds of leaders to the state capitol on March 15th to bring the fight directly to the offices of the state level elected officials who refused to attend the rally.

State Rep. Schakowsky commits to standing up for the immigrant and refugee community!

Federal, state, municipal and local elected officials who attended the Summit include: U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Bill Foster, and Mike Quigley, State Senator Dan Biss, State Reps. Lisa Hernandez, Theresa Mah, and Sam Yingling, Cook County Commissioners Bridget Gainer and Jesus Garcia, Chicago Aldermen Rick Munoz and George Cardenas, Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb and others.

Federal representatives were asked to commit to a national agenda supporting immigrants and refugees

  • Will you resist President Trump’s agenda?

  • Will you fight to maintain health care for 1.2 million Illinois residents?

  • Will you support the BRIDGE Act?

  • Will you stand in the way of deportation?

State officials endorsed specific legislation:

  • The Illinois TRUST Act, which builds on policies developed in other communities to set reasonable, constitutional limits on local police interaction with ICE enforcement, and foster trust between local police and immigrant communities.  

  • The Immigrant Safe Zone Act, which provides that schools, medical treatment and health care facilities and places of worship may not grant access to State and local law enforcement agencies.

  • The Student Access bill, which enables undocumented students at public universities to apply for school-based grants, scholarships, and other financial assistance.

  • An equitable budget solution that fully funds the immigrant service line item and supports Illinois’ vulnerable communities.

County and local officials affirmed their commitments to:

  • Passing or improving local welcoming policies that treat everyone equally and protects our communities from deportation without exception.

  • Working with ICIRR to roll out the Healthy Communities Cook County (HC3) health care access initiative and expand its future capacity.