ICIRR Announces the Community Empowerment and Defense Initiative

May 20, 2016

ICIRR Announces the Community Empowerment and Defense Initiative

On May 20, 2016, a multi-racial alliance of more than 80 community leaders from throughout Illinois launched the Community Empowerment and Defense Initiative in response to upcoming raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The launch brought out community members, media, and supporters united in solidarity for all immigrants facing the threat of deportation.  
Introduced as the “Shield” and “Sword” approach, the Community Empowerment and Defense Initiative stands on four pillars:
  • a Family Support Hotline (1-855-HELP-MY-FAMILY) to field calls from households facing deportation-related crises;
  • Know Your Rights trainings throughout the state to educate community leaders and members how to respond during ICE raids and encounters with other law enforcement;
  • deployment of more than 500 “Community Navigators” based in 56 organizations across Illinois, including Chicago, Waukegan, Bloomington, and throughout various immigrant communities, to advise on qualifications for immigration protections and relief such as the DACA program; and
  • engaging Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council to strengthen the  “Welcoming City Ordinance” to ensure that Chicago Police are not interacting with ICE in any way.
“Revising the city ordinance to include all immigrants in Chicago and create a clear line separating local law enforcement and immigration enforcement would show the city’s commitment to the immigrant community, and would create consistency between Cook County and city policies,” said Raiza Ortiz of Mujeres Latinas en Acción. “Our communities should be able to trust our local police and not constantly feel threatened or criminalized.”
Members of the police force abuse their authority under the color of law, gambling upon a factor that no one will care, act or that we do not know our rights,” said Michael “Nasir” Blackwell, a representative of UCCRO and the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). “There must be a national debate on abusiveness of policing powers with an understanding that immigrant communities and communities of color deserve and demand being treated humanely with dignity, morality and honor,” said Blackwell.

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