Chicago Pledges $1M for Legal Fund to Protect Undocumented Immigrants From Deportation

Lead Photo: Photo: Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune
Photo: Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune
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Days after Donald Trump won the presidential election, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledged to stand with undocumented immigrants. Despite the president-elect’s promise to withhold federal funding from cities that don’t cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Emanuel told undocumented citizens that they belonged in Chicago. “You are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago and you are supported in Chicago,” he said, according to NPR. “Chicago has in the past been a sanctuary city. It always will be a sanctuary city.”

Weeks after trying to soothe their fears, Emanuel is doing one better for some of Chicago’s most vulnerable residents. Through a $1 million fund, he and the National Immigrant Protection Center hope to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

“Chicago has a proud history of diversity and inclusion, and my administration will do everything in our power to ensure that immigrants remain safe, secure, and supported,” Emanuel said, according to DNA Info. “Because the election has created anxiety and uncertainty, we’ve created a legal fund to help ensure immigrants and refugees have access to legal guidance.”

This fund allows the National Immigration Protection Center to help 3,000 more people – providing them with legal information, screenings, and consultations. Through this fund, the center will serve 50 percent more people that it typically does. With 150,000 in Chicago without a legal permanent status, it’s a frightening time for many.

The money comes from the $20 million the City Council set aside for a rebate on property taxes for Chicagoans who make less than $75,000 a year. So far only 7 percent of homeowners have applied for the rebate. As the December 30 deadline to apply for the rebate quickly approaches, the city has earmarked part of the funds for this new initiative.

On November 28, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa asked the mayor to do more for the city’s undocumented population. Following Emanuel’s announcement, he applauded the mayor’s commitment to his city, but voiced concerns that $1 million would suffice. “[This] announcement demonstrates that he is listening to our community,” Ramirez-Rosa said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I remain hopeful that we are on the right path, but we still have a lot of catch-up work to rival New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco’s immigration efforts.”