The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Young Alderman Vows To Fight Trump's Policies By Uniting Chicago Latinos

By Mina Bloom | January 26, 2017 1:55pm
 Chicagoans at an immigration rally.
Chicagoans at an immigration rally.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) and local organizations are doubling down on efforts to protect undocumented immigrants in the face of President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant policies.

The president on Wednesday issued an executive order that will crack down on immigration and punish sanctuary cities that decline federal requests to hold arrestees with questionable immigration statuses in jail for deportation.

Ramirez-Rosa, whose ward is home to many immigrants, is poised to fight. The rookie alderman has been at work forming a "neighbor-to-neighbor" plan since Trump won the presidency in November.

Modeled after plans in other states facing a high number of deportations like Arizona and Georgia, the plan includes canvassing, identifying local institutions like schools and churches that can be sanctuaries for immigrants, "know your rights" workshops and physically blocking deportations, depending on the aggressiveness that Trump pursues them.

"Our goal is not only to dig deeper and provide people with legal resources, but it's also about building those relationships with the community," Ramirez-Rosa said.

"The best way a community can defend itself is to get organized. I want to make sure every single immigrant in the ward has an opportunity to join together and become organized."

The 35th Ward includes parts of Logan Square, Avondale, Hermosa, Irving Park and Albany Park. According to 2012 data, which is the latest available, the ward is 69 percent Hispanic.

Last Saturday, a group of 11 volunteers knocked on hundreds of doors in the 35th Ward to inform residents of their immigrant rights. The same group of volunteers will be back at it this upcoming Saturday, handing out pamphlets and signs.

Ramirez-Rosa is also rolling out "know your rights" workshops. The next one is scheduled for Feb. 11 at Miracle Center, 2311 N. Pulaski Rd., from noon - 3 p.m.

The goal of the workshops is to make sure immigrants know their constitutional rights if immigration officials knock on their door. Ramirez-Rosa said it's important because there are times when officials operate outside of the law.

"We want to reassure people that during this time of uncertainty that we need to stay close together and support and defend one another," he said.

Local organizations like Logan Square Neighborhood Association are also ramping up their efforts to protect undocumented immigrants. The neighborhood group is raising $10,000 to fund what they call a "sanctuary network builder," which aims to protect immigrants through outreach events similar to what the 35th Ward office is doing.

"What is clear is we need to connect and create a network of people [who] bring in resources that help raise awareness so we have a wider group of folks that are involved," said Marcelo Ferrer, director of LSNA's immigration team.

As of Thursday afternoon, the online fundraising campaign had raised $1,250 toward its goal. Ferrer said the money will go toward staffing and other costs associated with doing outreach events.

"It's like we're making the road by walking, in a sense," he said. "This is uncharted territory. It does seem like there's a new reality."

At the end of November, Ramirez-Rosa called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to strengthen protections for undocumented immigrants, demanding "less symbolism, and more action." He came up with a seven-point plan with help from more than 14 immigration rights organizations. 

Ramirez-Rosa said he's "hopeful" Emanuel will implement some of the ideas in the plan now that Trump has upped the ante. The ideas include everything from providing free or low-cost legal representation to immigrants to revisiting criminal justice reform like crackdowns on drunken driving. 

In response to Trump's remarks on Wednesday, Emanuel was defiant, saying, "We're going to stay a sanctuary city. Wherever you came from, you're welcome here."

Chicago's status as a sanctuary city dates to 1985, when Mayor Harold Washington prohibited city agencies from asking people about their immigration status, though the Chicago Police Department runs background checks on criminal suspects.

To donate to LSNA's "sanctuary network builder," visit the online campaign.