In the last few weeks, Chicago and Illinois have moved forward with protective measures for our immigrant communities amid growing concerns about how immigration enforcement is being conducted under this administration.
We should care about how immigration enforcement is carried out. Immigration enforcement should be transparent, accountable, fair and follow the law. Immigration enforcement should not break the rules, it should not treat mothers, veterans, US Citizens and tax-paying businessmen like violent criminals because of they might lack the proper visa.
We should care about how immigration enforcement is conducted because fear of deportation causes a decrease in crime reports in immigrant communities, which allows crime to flourish in our cities. We should care because our immigrant communities are hubs of small business growth, which are seeing declines in commerce under this administration, which means less tax revenue and fewer jobs. We should care because towns like Blue Island and neighborhoods like Pilsen, Little Village, West Rogers Park, and Albany Park are vibrant middle and working class neighborhoods and they are threatened. Too many of Chicago’s neighborhoods are already suffering. Why should we tolerate efforts to make more ailing neighborhoods in our city? What is going to happen in our immigrant neighborhoods as commerce declines, jobs are lost, and crime increases? Nothing good.
Efforts are being made to protect and preserve some stability in the state’s immigrant communities. The City of Chicago established a new “One Chicago” pro-immigrant campaign. According to the the One Chicago website: “the One Chicago campaign will facilitate access to resources and support for Chicago’s residents, including its immigrant and refugee communities.” Resources and Services include: “legal protection, naturalization assistance, community education, employer communications, as well as others.”
The Illinois Senate passed the Illinois Trust Act which would extend many immigrant sanctuary protections to the entire state. If the house passes their version of the bill, it is expected that the governor will veto the bill. Even so, several other common-sense immigration protection bills are expected to pass, including reforms to education and professional licensing. State Senator Bill Cunningham declined to sponsor or vote for or against the Illinois Trust Act.
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Chicago area immigration courts are packed with record numbers. Concerns are rising that legal processes and protections may be compromised with the growing backlog of immigration cases.
In other news, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a six month extension to the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to Haitian refugees who came to the United States after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. The TPS was set to expire in July, but has been extended to January 2018. The Department of Homeland Security has indicated that there will be no further extensions of the TPS status for the Haitian immigrants.
From the Miami Herald: “This six-month extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced.
There are more than 58,000 Haitian nationals in the TPS program in the United States. Conditions in Haiti are still abysmal. Chicagoland has a significant Haitian community that may be impacted by this change. Beverly CPA has reached out to leaders in Chicago’s Haitian community for insight into how Chicago and the Southwest Side will be impacted. More to come on this story in coming weeks.