Welcoming City Ordinance is a win by-and-for our communities, but work remains to be done

Tue Feb 23 2021

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Brandon Lee

Welcoming City Ordinance is a win by-and-for our communities

But work remains to be done to make Chicago truly welcoming to ALL


STATEMENT from the Chicago Immigration Working Group:


As members of the Chicago Immigration Working Group, we organize in order to honor the humanity of our communities, because too often our city and our institutions have not. Our five year effort to amend the Welcoming City Ordinance was a campaign of humanity - one that recognized that no matter someone’s history, layering deportation on top of an already flawed and racist criminal justice system is a discriminatory and wrong. Everyone deserves to live free from fear of deportation. Enacting these amendments brings Chicago a step closer to living up to its values of being a “welcoming” city, and the amendments begin to address one of the many conflicts that exist between police and communities throughout our city by limiting the role of police in our city.


Throughout this campaign we heard directly from undocumented Chicagoans directly affected by the loopholes in the ordinance. We held rallies at City Hall, hosted neighborhood teach-ins, circulated petitions, won the support of city council members, got mayoral candidates on the record, and built a strong, cross-city movement. Today, our organizing has led to a victory that ensures the Chicago Police Department will not honor ANY Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers or warrants, cooperate with ANY immigration enforcement operations, or directly share ANY information with ICE. This is a huge win for our communities, full stop. We recognize all of the elected officials that responded to the demands of the community.


But Chicago still cannot claim to be a truly welcoming city for all. While these amendments go a long way towards cutting off ties from federal immigration enforcement, we do not live single-issue lives. A lack of a real system of police accountability continues to be a serious challenge in our city while resources, priority, and attention continue to be given to structures that exclude, criminalize, and imprison Black, brown, and immigrant communities at the expense of health care, housing, education, and other resources that specifically address root causes. These amendments illustrate that police accountability is possible and necessary, and we have an opportunity to build upon this important victory. To fully achieve our vision of equity, and to be a true welcoming city, Chicago must start to divest from criminalization, begin to invest in our communities, and ensure true police accountability.


We have shown that we can organize and win, and we will continue to do so until the city truly lives up to its “welcoming” name.


Members of the Chicago Immigration Working Group: Access Living, AFIRE Chicago, Arab American Action Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, Beyond Legal Aid, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights, Chicago Jobs with Justice, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, Enlace Chicago, Grassroots Collaborative, HANA Center, The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Latino Union of Chicago, National Immigrant Justice Center, Organized Communities Against Deportations

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