History of Immigration 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.