New City of Chicago initiative has empowered more than 11,000 and provided legal help to more than 2,000 immigrants

Chicago’s Legal Protection Fund, a city initiative that supports ten organizations including The Resurrection Project (TRP) and Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) to expand access to protect immigrants in Chicago, celebrated its six-month anniversary at an event hosted by CNA Senior Vice President Sarah Pang on Thursday, July 13.

The Fund was created in December 2016 to protect the more than 180,000 undocumented immigrants in Chicago following the Presidential election of Donald Trump. Since inception, the initiative has already educated 338 community navigators, who have in turn ensured that 11,539 Chicago immigrants now know their rights. Additionally, the Fund has provided legal help to more than 2,000 immigrants in Chicago.

Speakers at the event included Legal Protection Fund Co-Chairs Chicago First Lady Amy Rule, City Clerk Anna Valencia, and 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis, along with 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett.

The event also featured testimonies from community navigators empowered by the initiative, including one powerful speech by the Robles family of Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP). Wendy Robles and her two young daughters thanked their fellow community navigators and the Legal Protection Fund for helping her husband Oscar to avoid deportation in March, and later in June, receive permission to stay in the U.S. for another year.

While the event’s purpose was to commemorate the work already accomplished because of the Fund, it also served as a call to action. As an amendment to the original city budget that utilized unused money from a property tax rebate program, the Fund must remain secure and keep assisting Chicago’s immigrant community in next year’s budget.

“Chicago’s Legal Protection Fund, unfortunately, is necessary,” said City Clerk Valencia. “Over the next three and half years [Donald Trump] is going to still be our president and we don’t know what dangerous policies he might make…so we need to make sure that we continue to have our legal fund. We want to effect 20,000, but the Chicagoland area is home to 100,000 undocumented [immigrants] so that’s a small fraction of what we’re getting to.”

“This action is a part of our broader goal to create policy that reflects our faith and values,” said Erendira Rendon, Director of National Partnerships at TRP. “Immigrant families are valuable contributors to our city and state and we must continue working to protect their rights.”

Current community-based organizations partnered with The Resurrection Project (TRP) in the Chicago Immigrant Legal Protection Navigator Network include Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Centro Romero, Erie Neighborhood House, Hana Center / Korean American Resource and Community Center, Indo-American Center, Instituto del Progreso Latino, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), and United African Organization. Training and curriculum support is provided by National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA).

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