The Chicago City Council Approves Budget for Chicago Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants
December 14, 2016
Diana Pando, 312.880.1140
Tara Tidwell Cullen, 312.660.1337
The Chicago City Council Approves Budget for
Chicago Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants
TRP and Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center to assist 20,000 immigrants with legal protection
On Wednesday, December 14th, The Chicago City Council approved the budget for Chicago’s Legal Defense Fund. As a result of this approved budget, The Resurrection Project (TRP) and Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) will expand access to legal counsel for immigrants in Chicago. The fund will support the Community Navigators Program, a collaboration of eight immigrant-serving community organizations across the city, and increase the number of lawyers available to represent immigrants in legal proceedings.
“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 and NIJC plan on educating over 20,000 individuals on knowing their legal rights. 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.
“When people know how to access trustworthy and affordable immigration legal services in their communities, they are empowered to defend their civil rights in the wake of immigration enforcement actions,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, NIJC’s executive director. “They are better equipped to apply for immigration protections available under our laws and less likely to fall prey to fraudulent legal practitioners. “We are grateful that the City of Chicago has taken this action to affirm to our immigrant neighbors that they have rights and that those rights will be defended.”
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 3 million additional immigrants could be deported.
The Chicago Legal Defense Fund will increase the number of attorneys and paralegals available to represent immigrants in their legal proceedings. The goal, through collaboration with community-based organizations and Chicago’s unparalleled network of pro bono attorneys, is to make legal screenings and full representation accessible to as many people as possible who face deportation and qualify for legal relief.
The Community Navigators Program is designed to provide immigrant Chicagoans with legal information 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.
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.
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.
About The Resurrection Project
The Resurrection Project is a multifaceted organization that seamlessly blends community development, community organizing, human service delivery, and advocacy to build healthier and engaged communities. Since its founding in 1990 with an initial seed capital of $30,000, TRP has leveraged more than $431 million in community reinvestment through homes for ownership, rental housing, small businesses and community facilities. To date TRP has developed 733 units of affordable housing, and created over 264,000 square feet of community commercial space, creating vibrant, healthier and involved communities. For more information on TRP’s immigration services please go to www.resurrectionproject.org.
National Immigrant Justice Center
A HEARTLAND ALLIANCE Program
With offices in Chicago, Indiana, and Washington, D.C., Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. Visit immigrantjustice.org and follow @NIJC.