All posts by anabelmendoza2020

‘Radical’ activism: A Q&A with Chicago immigration organizer Rey Wences

By Anabel Mendoza
Medill Reports

Rey Wences is the co-founder of the Immigrant Youth Justice League, which later became Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), a local nonprofit focused on advocating against the deportation, detention and criminalization of immigrants. Wences, who started organizing for immigrant rights at 18 years old, discussed what makes OCAD different from other immigrant rights nonprofits in Chicago and why the city needs the organization’s ‘radical’ activism.

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Chicago judge approved the release of immigrant father from detention, a ‘great’ but minor victory according to organizers

By Anabel Mendoza
Medill Reports

A Chicago Immigration Court judge ruled in favor of releasing Francisco Silva, a 49-year-old man who was held in immigration detention for over five months, this past January.

Despite Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s recent characterization of Chicago as “the most welcoming city in America” for immigrants, Silva’s favorable decision came only after months of lobbying by the Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), a local advocacy organization that supports immigrants in deportation proceedings.

OCAD has supported roughly 20 deportation proceedings per year, according to organizers. But that pales next to the total number of cases in the Midwest. In 2018, Chicago’s Immigration Court (cq), which oversees immigrant proceedings for six Midwestern states, had nearly 30,000 pending cases, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s most recent annual report.

Some organizers said that the large number of pending proceedings showed the limitations of Chicago’s policies that are meant to protect immigrants.

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Chicago organizers worry New Way Forward Act won’t pass

By Anabel Mendoza
Medill Reports

A sparsely attended town hall discussion on a major immigration bill intended to advance racial justice for immigrant communities showed the challenges of gaining local support for more inclusive immigration policies.

The Organized Communities Against Deportations, a local nonprofit focused on advocating against the deportation, detention and criminalization of immigrants, held the meeting late last month to spread awareness of the New Way Forward Act, an immigration reform bill.

Members from the organization said the bill would directly support Chicago’s undocumented immigrants by ending automatic deportation proceedings, mandatory detention and local police collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Over 40 people said they were interested in attending the event, according to the organization’s Facebook page, but only five showed up.

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Lightfoot calls Chicago ‘the most welcoming city’ for immigrants, but some nonprofit leaders disagree

By Anabel Mendoza
Medill Reports

A month after Mayor Lori Lightfoot called Chicago “the most welcoming city” for immigrants, representatives from local immigrant rights organizations said this characterization doesn’t reflect reality.

Lightfoot’s statement followed a report by the New American Economy last November, which ranked the city as first among the 100 largest cities in the U.S. for integrative immigration policies.

The New American Economy, a national bipartisan organization focused on immigration reform, surveyed questions like: “How do law enforcement agencies treat immigrants?” and “Do immigrants have equal access to information, services and opportunities?” Chicago received a five out of five on its policy score.

But many nonprofit leaders and community organizers said that the city’s policies have remained limited in its protection of immigrants. In Chicago, immigrants make up one-fifth of the city’s overall population, according to the Office of New Americans, a department of the city that works to improve services for immigrant communities.

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