HomeAround TRP NewsletterChicago Mayor Brandon Johnson; Community, Business, Labor and Faith Leaders Call on Biden Administration to Extend Work Permits to Long-Term Residents, Strengthen U.S. Economy and Families

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson; Community, Business, Labor and Faith Leaders Call on Biden Administration to Extend Work Permits to Long-Term Residents, Strengthen U.S. Economy and Families

April 4, 2024


CHICAGO – Today, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson joined community leaders to elevate the contributions of Black and Brown immigrants and urged President Joe Biden to extend work permits to all undocumented workers to address the growing labor shortage, keep families together and stabilize the workforce. The mayor also announced that he is circulating a letter for signature by other mayors and county executives, urging President Biden to grant work permits to long-term undocumented immigrants in the United States.

This is the city that works, and whether it is a new arrival or a long-term undocumented Chicagoan who has lived in our city for decades, immigrant communities are working communities,” said Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. “I’m proud to stand here today with the business community and labor partners as we call for work permits so that families can stay together and we can continue to grow our local economy.”

An impressive group of leaders from The Resurrection Project (TRP), the Chicago Urban League, the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) and other business, labor, community and faith constituencies spoke up in favor of extending work permits to long-term undocumented residents of Illinois. A full list of speakers appears below.

Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia stated, “Work Permits for All is an opportunity to right that wrong and have an equitable approach. We all have value. We need to continue to say that hate has no home here; there is no division, and not all undocumented people are Latino — they are Black, Latino, Asian and white. What is the difference between taking in Ukrainians and Afghans? Do you know we have 30,000 Ukrainians that we have taken into Chicago, but no one has said anything about that? We can’t be told to wait until after the November election. Right now, we need to hear we’re going to make this right for all of our families.”                                                                                                                                             

Rebecca Shi, executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC), said, “Thank you, Mayor Johnson for joining us to ask President Biden to grant work permits to the long-term residents of this country — Black people, Latino people, Asian people — folks from every race and religious background. Chicago and Illinois are home to 320,000 undocumented Mexicans and Guatemalans, and 40,000 undocumented Haitians, Jamaicans and Nigerians. They have lived here on average 15 years, contribute $1.5 billion in taxes and make up 26 percent of the workforce despite being only 17 percent of the population. We are grateful to the president for providing work permits to the new arrivals and ask him to extend the same dignity of work permits to long-term residents who are helping to build our city.”

“As an immigrant who leads an organization working to achieve equity for our community, I am honored to be part of this Black and Brown coalition to advocate for the long-term immigrants who have strengthened our city,” said Raul I. Raymundo, CEO of The Resurrection Project. “We are proud to partner with the city, state and the White House on providing legal assistance for thousands of new arrivals. But now we must expand access to long-term immigrants who have been contributing to this city, state and nation for decades. I am grateful to Mayor Johnson for his leadership and solidarity with the long-term undocumented residents, as Chicago continues to be a welcoming city.”

Said Carlil Pittman, executive director of GoodKids MadCity – Englewood, the father of five children and husband of a Mexican woman with DACA: “I have seen firsthand the disparity and fear from my wife’s family’s point of view. I’ve been a part of their family for the last 15 years and I can count on my hands how many days of work her father has taken off. Partly because he is a hard-working individual, but primarily it’s because he does not have paid days off, and the fear that if he does not work, he will be cast away as if he never existed. My father-in-law’s story is not unique. There is a constant fear of feeling expendable. To be a taxpayer that does not benefit from this country by even just having a work permit is not a just system, and leaving those people out of the fight for work permits is not an equitable system. As a Black person, I know first hand how it feels to be disregarded and forgotten. So, I am here today in support of the Work Permits for All Campaign, and calling on President Biden to create a just and equitable system for everyone — including those who are currently migrating into our city, but also and especially those who have been here for decades as members of our society.”

“In the Baltimore bridge collapse, six Latinos passed away that day. It was no coincidence. Latinos are building the United States of America,” said Jaime di Paulo, President and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Every time there is a tragedy in construction, there is going to be a Latino there. This is the reason why we are here today. We need to urge the president of the United States, through our mayor, to extend permits to the undocumented workers who have been building the United States for years.” 

“We have been asking for a reprieve from detention and deportation, as well as work permits, so that people are able to thrive and work with dignity here,” said Fasika Alem, Programs Director for the United African Organization. “One out of every four Black immigrants is undocumented. Parole is something the U.S. government has discretion to grant in many ways. The City of Chicago could once again partner with the federal government to provide protections for long-term undocumented immigrants, including work permits. This should also be coupled with continued advocacy for the redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for countries like Haiti, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Sudan as well as the designation of TPS for countries like the Congo, Mali and Mauritania. Together, parole and TPS can provide significant protections to people in Chicago and Illinois.”

Teresa Labastida, a community navigator with Palenque LSNA, was born in Mexico, but has lived in Chicago with her husband and three U.S. citizen children for 25 years. She said, “My husband works double shifts as a dishwasher at a restaurant. I am a parent mentor and a community navigator with Palenque LSNA. Since last year, I was happy to support the newly arriving immigrants. I helped them apply for help and legal services. I made good friends with some of those families and we celebrated together  when they called to tell me they received their work permits. It’s a bittersweet celebration for me, because even though I have helped many families, I do not have a path to fix my immigration status. My husband and I have been working in the shadows for 25 years. We don’t have a legal work permit. We file taxes every year. We have a good track record. What about us? This country gladly takes our labor, but when it is time to grant us work permits, it feels like they forgot about us. We also deserve to get out of the shadows and work with dignity.”

Immigrant workers in Illinois contribute $1.5 billion in taxes. Illinois is home to 480,000 long-term undocumented immigrants. Work authorization would address labor shortages, ensure fair wages and improve working conditions while growing the economy and keeping Illinois families together. Read more at https://heretowork.us/resources/.



The Resurrection Project (TRP) builds trusting relationships to educate and propel individuals, immigrants, and families to achieve their social and economic aspirations, stable homes, and equitable participation in their community. TRP is a leading provider of immigration services, affordable housing, and financial education on Chicago’s Southwest side.  

For more than three decades TRP has worked to improve lives by creating wealth, building assets, and engaging residents to be catalysts for change. Rooted in the Pilsen community, TRP’s impact now extends across the City of Chicago and through the State of Illinois; we are making steady progress towards leveraging and preserving more than $1 billion in community wealth by 2025.

American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) is a bipartisan coalition of over 1,400+ CEOs, business owners, and trade associations across 17 mostly red and purple states. ABIC promotes common sense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs and citizens.