Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights (CIRR)
The City of Chicago has established several standing Committees, each led by an appointed alderperson. These committees are responsible for addressing administrative and legislative activities as outlined by the Rules of Order. The Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights (CIRR) is thus authorized to consider “all matters relating to opportunities for, and the security and stability of, first-generation and second-generation immigrants and refugees living in Chicago, with a particular focus on the economic, education, and public health-related concerns of such persons.”
For the 2023-2027 term, Alderperson Vasquez was appointed Chair of the Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Chairperson Vasquez plans to actively use this position to bring increased accessibility, transparency, and accountability to the City’s approach to immigration and related matters via holding hearings. The Committee intends to create sound legislation, and offer operational support within this realm.
You can see a list of the CIRR Committee members, which includes Vice-Chairperson Jeanette Taylor.
Our committee staff are as follows:
- Pooja Ravindran, Chief of Staff
- Diana Perez, Director of Community Engagement
- Ell Snider, Director of Operations
How to Participate in Committee Meetings
Immigration and Immigration Policy in Chicago
Chicago has a long, rich history of immigration and welcoming immigration policy that begins with its founding by Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, a Haitian/French immigrant himself. Throughout its history, Chicago has become home for new arrivals from all over the globe and they make our city the inclusive, economic and cultural engine that it is. Chicago is better for its diversity, and will continue to be!
In 1985, to protect immigrants from deportation, former Mayor Harold Washington issued an executive order that proclaimed Chicago a ‘Sanctuary City.’ This executive order prohibits city employees from enforcing federal immigration laws. In 2012, to reinforce Chicago’s commitment to inclusivity, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council passed the Welcoming City Ordinance. This ordinance protects the rights of immigrants, and grants all residents access to city services, regardless of immigration status. In 2021, Mayor Lori Lightfoot added more protections to the Welcoming City Ordinance by removing carve outs and loopholes that still would have allowed for cooperation with Federal Enforcement Agencies.
New Arrivals in Chicago
Since August 2022, Chicago has experienced an unprecedented and alarming surge of forced migration. Governor Abbott of Texas and other conservative leaders have sent, without any coordination, over 19,500 asylum seekers to Chicago in order to stress the city’s status as a ‘Sanctuary City.’
In a short period of time, forced migration from Texas has created a localized humanitarian crisis in Chicago. To quickly mobilize and respond to this crisis, Chicago has had to ‘build a plane while flying it,’ so to speak.
There are many city departments, community based organizations, mutual aid groups, and other entities responding to this crisis. Their actions are often not communicated clearly to the public, limiting both accountability and praise.
In addition to grappling with this new humanitarian crisis, Chicago is also working to help longtime Chicago residents facing poverty, racial discrimination, and other societal ills. Many of us hope that through this current crisis, Chicago will expand beneficial infrastructure, resources and access for all who live in precarity.
In June 2023, the Mayor’s Office began hosting a weekly briefing for Alders to summarize ongoing advocacy efforts and data tracked. In the interest of transparency, CIRR has compiled this information for the public. CIRR does not track or maintain the raw data — we are simply presenting what has been shared with us by the Mayor’s Office.
Top Line Summary
Shelter and Staging Areas
Latest Housing Census Update
All Housing Census Data
By Housing Status
By Family Unit
By Country of Origin
All Demographic Census Data
Below are compilations of documents that CIRR requested various stakeholders create and present at past committee meetings.