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ICIRR Summit Launches Federal, State Advocacy Push for 2019

Schakowsky, Garcia, Raoul, State Legislators Join Hundreds of Immigrant Leaders Calling for Full Citizenship for All

ICIRR Summit Launches Federal, State Advocacy Push for 2019


CHICAGO (February 2, 2019)—More than 600 immigrant leaders cheered on U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Attorney General Kwame Raoul, and more than a dozen state legislators as they pledged to advance pro-immigrant policies on Saturday during the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Immigrant Integration Summit.


ICIRR’s 2019 summit at Chicago’s Malcolm X College drew together over 600 leaders from the broad diversity of Illinois’ immigrant communities under the banner of “Full Citizenship for All.”  


“While we need to protect immigrant families from the constant barrage of attacks from the current federal administration, we also need to build toward a future that welcomes and respects immigrants,” said ICIRR Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Benito. “Full citizenship for all includes not only legal status but also full opportunities to access health care, education, safety and economic opportunities for all Illinois residents.”


Immigrant leaders questioned federal, state, and local elected officials regarding their support for pro-immigrant policies. Reps. Schakowsky and Garcia agreed to oppose any attempt to fund construction of a border wall, to hold the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accountable for the harm it has done to immigrant families and communities, and to protect immigrants at risk of losing protection under the DACA and Temporary Protected Status programs that the White House and intend to phase out.


“We are pushing back against the white nationalist agenda that is attempting to create physical and policy barriers to prevent immigrants and refugees from thriving in the U.S,” said Glo Choi, a leader with the HANA Center. The organization’s leaders helped organize the event and filled a bus with adult and youth leaders to join in the fight to advance local and national solutions. “This platform of solutions was created by our communities, for our communities. We will take this fight to city hall, the county, Springfield and D.C. And when we organize, we win.”


State legislative leaders, including House Majority Leader Greg Harris and Assistant House Majority Leader Linda Chapa La Via, committed to increasing funding for immigrant services and providing appropriations for Census 2020 outreach. They also pledged their support for two legislative priorities:

  • the Keep Immigrant Families Together Act (HB 1637), sponsored by Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Sen. Don Harmon, which would shield public schools, medical facilities, courthouses, and certain other locations from immigration enforcement and restrict police cooperation with immigration authorities, and

  • the RISE Act, sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez and Sen. Omar Aquino (co-chairs of the state Latino Caucus), which would ensure access to state financial aid for any Illinois student who is ineligible for federal assistance, including many immigrant students.


Attorney General Kwame Raoul also committed to support these bills and to fully implement the TRUST Act and the VOICES Act, which ICIRR and its partners in the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois won during the past two years.


“I dream that one day our state and country will be welcoming to everyone. But dreaming is not enough. We must fight for the justice we seek for our communities, and that is what we did today,”said Ciria Ruiz, a community leader who helped plan the summit from ICIRR member organization Enlace Chicago. “ I have seen what we as a coalition can accomplish together. We had great success in the past two years, and now we’re looking to have our most successful year yet.”


After hearing these commitments, the gathered leaders broke into sessions to plan strategy and actions to federal, state, Cook County, and Chicago advocacy. The leaders will focus on Springfield advocacy days on March 5 and later in the spring legislative calendar, and on meetings with their members of Congress, county commissioners, and their candidates for Chicago mayor and alderman.


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