On Wednesday, December 14th, The Chicago City Council approved a $1.3 million dollar budget for Chicago’s Legal Defense Fund. As a result of this approved budget, The Resurrection Project (TRP) will expand its reach with Community Navigators and Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center will expand access to legal counsel for immigrants in Chicago. The Community Navigators Program will be in collaboration with eight immigrant-serving community organizations across the city.
“We applaud Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council for its support of the Chicago Legal Defense Fund because this partnership will enhance the city’s commitment to being a welcoming city for immigrants,” said Raul Raymundo, TRP’s CEO.
“TRP plans on educating over 20,000 individuals on knowing their legal rights. The National Immigrant Justice Center will increase legal screenings and representation to Chicago immigrants. By complementing legal services in this way, the City of Chicago will be able to use limited dollars to serve many more people at scale.”
The approval of the Chicago Legal Defense Fund comes at a time when there is widespread fear and real danger throughout Chicago regarding immigration. Families do not have the information necessary to make critical decisions about deportation protection or defense.
“It’s historic that the city is putting resources in deportation defense to protect immigrants from attacks from the new administration,” noted Erendira Rendon, TRP’s Director of National Partnerships. “Immigrant families are a vital part of Chicago – its culture and its tax base and this is a recognition of this.”
If the President-elect keeps his promises, 741,000 undocumented youth whose lives were changed by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) will lose their work permits and become deportable, plus as many as three million additional immigrants could be immediately deported in the first year.
The Community Navigators Program is designed to provide immigrant Chicagoans with legal services in the neighborhoods where they live and in the languages they speak. However, the program doesn’t replace or supplement attorneys. Instead they reinforce them by connecting the attorneys with trained community volunteers. Community Navigators is a part of the national model developed by the National Partnership for New Americans.
TRP will partner with community based organizations to recruit and train 200 community navigators – “grassroots leaders” who are rooted in Chicago’s diverse immigrant communities to do outreach on know your rights, connect to legal services and organize to fight against deportations and attacks.
“Immigrants are Chicagoans just like anyone else, we make Chicago great and we make Chicago work,” stated Rendon. Currently, the consumer expenditures of Chicago’s undocumented immigrants alone generated more than 31,000 jobs in the local economy and added $5.5 billion annually to the gross regional product according to a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago.
For more information, please contact Erendira Rendon at 312.880.1151.