By: Ivanna Salgado, CRLN Immigration Organizer Intern
Were the words that were screamed with much enthusiasm by several protesters and organizations on June 15th, 2017 to push the city of Chicago to amend the Welcoming City Ordinance with no carve outs.
In 2012, Chicago passed the Welcoming City Ordinance establishing guidelines on how Chicago police interacts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), meant to limit collaboration between police and ICE, and protect immigrants from deportation.
These words allowed for my tears to silently splatter the concrete floor in the “One Chicago” that was built through the violence against immigrants and enslaved people on these stolen lands. Over the years, we have forgotten this actual reality because it has been covered by narratives of white supremacy that have manipulated us into believing their truth is the only truth that exists.
In fact, the word “immigrant” itself is a construction of white supremacy, a system that has gained power after settlers immigrated to America to separate themselves from those who they would soon treat as inferiors. Then, the word immigrant became racialized and criminalized.
Being an undocumented immigrant is nothing to be ashamed of, but we have been trained to do so by hearing quotes like “In America we only speak English.” The irony out of this quote is that, America includes all of North America and South America. America itself is made out 33 Latin American countries, and English is not even the main language there.
Over the years, for me, being an immigrant has come with so much pride and struggle rather than with shame. Being an immigrant has taught me to explore my own identity and celebrate and understands the politics of the cultures of my immigrant friends.
Yesterday’s rally made me reflect on the families that are currently being impacted by the immigration system or who have been criminalized by police officers or ICE.
It is hard to feel proud when our families are being ripped apart. It is often regret that our families feel for coming to the U.S.
Just like the City Hall building that has been built through the exploitation of immigrants. Just like Alderman Rosa says “Chicago cannot claim it is One Chicago if it is not offering sanctuary for all of its residents and instead it is working with ICE to deport immigrants. The City Hall building belongs to us because we built it so we have a voice.”
I study in Ohio, and when I heard that Chicago was a sanctuary city my heart was filled with happiness and proudness because I am a Chicagoan. Ohio unfortunately is a swing state. However, I am disheartened to know that the city of Chicago is not the sanctuary city it displays to the public. Many immigrants are being criminalized and dehumanized for wanting to stay with their loved ones.
As I saw signs like “Sanctuary For All. No Exceptions.” or “La Lucha Obrera No Tiene Fronteras” uplifted at the rally, I was happy to know that many communities were on board and continued to fight. Because once we are done turning the city of Chicago into a sanctuary city with no loopholes,
are we really done?
What’s the next move? It is a long battle because in every other city there are undocumented communities fighting for the same cause, for our liberation, and we should be standing next to them fighting and screaming “No Wall. No Registry. No White Supremacy.”
This ongoing battle that has been supported by a working group: Arab American Action Network, Asian American Advancing Justice- Chicago, Organized Communities Against Deportation, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Right,s the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Southwest Organizing Project, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos – Immigrant Worker Defense Project, the Latino Policy Forum, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Enlace, the Hana Center, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights, the Latino Union of Chicago, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Communities United, and Black Youth Project 100.
Thank you to these organizations and individuals that been in solidarity with becoming a “Model Sanctuary City.”