ICIRR Hosts 2018 Summit: Building A Stronger Illinois!

February 20, 2018
Demian Kogan
Director of Organizing

Over 500 members of the community and ICIRR member organizations turned out to Malcolm X College on Saturday to take part in the 2018 Annual Summit: Building A Stronger Illinois. Summit attendees kicked off the action-packed day by watching a Mitotiliztli Yaoyollohtli Aztec dance and participating in a group song led by ICIRR member organizations Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and Access Living. Leaders from Communities United and Arab American Family Services also guided attendees through a recap of some of ICIRR’s major victories from 2017, including the Rally for Resistance, Unity, and Respect; work with HC3 to spearhead the development of Cook County Direct Access Program; the creation of Chicago’s Municipal ID program; the full restoration of the immigrant services line item; collaboration with the Campaign For A Welcoming Illinois to successfully pass the Trust Act, and record levels of new citizen voter registration.

Following City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado’s opening remarks reiterating the City Colleges’ commitment to “welcome all with open arms,” attendees also heard a testimonial from DACA recipient Adriana from the Southwest Organizing Project. As elected officials watched from the audience, Adriana delivered a powerful statement reminding everyone that her her boldness, confidence, and community service thanks to DACA is her contribution to this country, and that she is here to stay.

With the tone officially set as fearless and unapologetic, Summit Co-Chairs Anel Sancen of Mujeres Latinas En Accion and Sameerah Haque from the Hana Center turned the stage over to Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago’s Executive Director, Tuyet Le, to lead a question-answer accountability session with elected officials, including Congresswoman Schakowsky and Congressman Quigley, Cook County Board President Preckwinkle, and Commissioner Garcia. Questions were also read by community members for Alderman Rosa, who did not make an appearance at the Summit; representatives from the Chicago Religious Leadership Network and the United African Organization specifically reiterated the gaping exceptions in the Welcoming City Ordinance. “One of these exceptions is Chicago’s gang database - a list that disproportionately targets immigrant, Latino, and Black communities,” said Cynthia. “Chicago’s welcoming city policy has loopholes that are unconstitutional. Chicago won’t amend our ordinance to bring it up to the level of the TRUST Act…We want no loopholes, no exceptions. If Chicago is a welcoming city-- who is it really a welcoming for?”

Following the accountability session, attendees broke out into seven different workshops covering everything from census reform to affordable housing to healthcare and workers’ rights, before reconvening for a candidates’ forum. While candidates for Governor and Attorney General had previously filled out a questionnaire regarding their official stances on specific issues, each candidate was also given a couple minutes to answer the question: “What is your vision to address the needs for Illinois’s immigrants, refugees, people of color, Muslims, people with disabilities, and low-income families?”

Finally, after some last announcements about an upcoming Springfield Advocacy Day on February 28 and the ICIRR Change Makers program, attendees broke for the day, ready to fight for a Stronger Illinois throughout the rest of 2018. “I felt like I was walking side by side with a lot of people today, and it felt powerful,” said a member of Communities United.

Thank you to all of our attendees, member organizations and many volunteers for making the Summit possible — we look forward to seeing you in Springfield next week to continue building a Stronger Illinois!

Check out more coverage of our Summit on Twitter with #StrongerIllinois, and view more photos from the event on our Facebook page!