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City Partners With Colleges To Put Out Welcome Mat For Skilled Immigrants

By Heather Cherone | March 15, 2017 2:31pm | Updated on March 17, 2017 11:36am
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Immigrants should "see Chicago as a place where their dreams can come true," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "Chicago will remain a welcoming city in the full sense of the word."
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

CHICAGO — Chicago — and five universities — are putting out the welcome mat for immigrant entrepreneurs.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Wednesday the city will partner with DePaul University, Northwestern University, Columbia College, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Loyola University to sponsor visas for 10 to 20 immigrants who want to start businesses in Chicago.

Immigrants should "see Chicago as a place where their dreams can come true," Emanuel said. "Chicago will remain a welcoming city in the full sense of the word."

The visas will be reserved for those whose businesses are expected to create 150 jobs or more over three years, officials said.

These immigration permits, known as H-IB visas, are highly sought after by technology companies who want to hire skilled foreign workers.

This type of visa has drawn fire from both Republicans and Democrats for contributing to the displacement of American workers. Last week, President Donald Trump's administration slowed the process for awarding these visas in what many observers said was the first step in a broad overhaul of the visa system widely used by firms to bring foreign workers to America.

Dubbed the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, the Chicago effort is modeled on a University of Massachusetts effort that created more than 400 jobs and generated $185 million in private investment since launching in 2014, according to Emanuel's office.

Emanuel has been an outspoken critic of Trump's immigration policy.

Along with New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Emanuel Tuesday urged a federal judge in Seattle to block Trump’s second attempt at restricting travel into the United States from six majority-Muslim nations.

In addition, Emanuel has vowed that Chicago will remain a Sanctuary City despite a crackdown on cities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation by the Trump administration.

An executive order signed by Trump moved to yank all federal grants "except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes," which could cost Chicago millions of dollars.