Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights (CIRR)

Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights (CIRR)

About the Committee

City Council - meeting of the CIRR - Ald. Vasquez chairs

For the 2023-2027 term, Alderperson Vasquez was appointed Chair of the Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights (CIRR). CIRR is responsible for considering all legislation regarding the security and stability of immigrants and refugees in Chicago, with a focus on alleviating the economic, educational, and public-health challenges that immigrants and refugees face.  

In addition to considering and crafting legislation, CIRR holds regular hearings on immigration-related issues, and also offers operational support to the City and to immigrant and refugee organizations. Through hearings, operational support, and legislation, Chairperson Vasquez aspires to bring increased accessibility, transparency, and accountability to Chicago’s approach to immigration. 

CIRR role and mission

The Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights mission is to provide accessibility, transparency, and accountability to the City’s approach to immigration and related matters. We do this primarily by holding hearings on issues related to immigration and creating sound legislation.

The Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights is not in charge of, nor do we have power over, operations regarding new arrivals—all operations are managed by the Mayor’s Office and by departments under executive control. Our role is to offer operational support where we can, and to provide transparency to the public about the City’s response to new arrivals, so that we and the public can hold the City accountable to its values. 

As a Committee, we will continue to advocate the City of Chicago to commit to expanding its social infrastructure to provide increased resources and access for immigrants and refugees in our community.

History of immigration in Chicago

Chicago has a long and rich history of immigration, starting with its founding by Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, a Haitian/French immigrant. Chicago is now home to immigrants from across  the globe, all of whom make our City the diverse economic and cultural engine we know and love.

Our City has a history of welcoming immigration policy: 

  • In 1985, to protect immigrants from deportation, former Mayor Harold Washington issued an executive order that proclaimed Chicago a Sanctuary City, which 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 would have allowed city officials to cooperate with Federal Immigration Enforcement Agencies.

The Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights is proud to continue Chicago’s history of welcoming immigrants and refugees to our City.

For information and resources for immigrant and refugee communities, e.g. legal support, immigration services, and access to city services, please visit our Immigrant and Refugee Resources page.

In addition to considering and crafting legislation, CIRR holds regular hearings on immigration-related issues, and also offers operational support to the City and to immigrant and refugee organizations.

CIRR Staff

  • Pooja Ravindran, Chief of Staff
  • Diana Perez, Director of Community Engagement
  • Ell Snider, Director of Operations

CIRR Members

Our Work

Committee Meetings

You’re invited!

Learn more about our Committee’s and the City of Chicago’s efforts to support immigrants and refugees in our community! Chicago City Council meetings are open to the public. Meetings typically begin at 10 a.m. in the Council Chambers located on the second floor at City Hall.

You can find CIRR’s public meeting archive and schedule on the City Clerk’s website.

Next Meeting

  • Date: Thursday, June 6
  • Time: 10:00 am
  • Where: City Hall (121 N LaSalle St), 2nd Floor, Council Chambers
  • Get help: Security guards on the ground floor can help you find the chambers

Providing public comment

Committee meetings provide members of the general public an opportunity to give public comment. During each committee meeting, the first 30 minutes is dedicated to in person and/or virtual public comment. This public comment is limited to three minutes per speaker, for a maximum of 10 speakers. 

The Committee also solicits written public comment, which is compiled and distributed to committee members at each committee meeting.

In-person public comment

To provide in-person public comment, head to the Council Chambers (2nd Floor, City Hall), and inform the Sergeant-at-Arms’ staff that you wish to submit public comment during the meeting. Public comment speakers are chosen randomly.

Virtual public comment

To provide virtual public comment, call (312) 744-6800, and leave a voice message with your name, telephone number, and the meeting your virtual public comment is for. You can only call between two business days before the committee meeting at 10 AM and the business day before the committee meeting at 9 AM.

On the business day before the scheduled meeting, between 10 AM and 2 PM, the Sergeant-at-Arms will contact selected participants (not every caller will be selected!), and give them instructions to access the meeting, including a telephone number and passcode. The Sergeant-at-Arms will only make one attempt to call the selected participant; if there is no response, your spot is forfeited.

Written public comment

To provide written public comment, email your comments on any item in an upcoming committee meeting agenda to cirr@cityofchicago.org.

  • Please include ‘public comment’ and the meeting date in the email’s subject line.
  • Public comment is due 24 hours before the committee meeting.
  • All public comment is distributed to committee Alders and posted online in our Rule 45 reports.

Committee staff also post monthly CIRR meeting updates on the 40th Ward blog under the category: Immigration

Committee meeting archives

Question & Answer Bank

Below, you can find a bank of questions we’ve received in our Committee meetings, along with the answers from the appropriate city departments. If the answer section is blank, that indicates that the Committee has not yet received an answer from the appropriate City official or department.

View the AirTable Question Bank spreadsheet in a new window.

Supplemental Documents

  • March 28, 2024 – Supplemental documents. (PDF)Committee presentation
    • Agenda:
    • Overview
    • Goal: Exit reporting
    • Goal: Shelter condition reporting
    • Goal: Good government and public interest
    • Timeline
    • Resources
  • January 30, 2024 – Supplemental documents, (PDF)Committee minutes
    • Subject matter hearing: To discuss landing zone conditions, shelter conditions, shelter grievance procedure, and oversight of contracted agencies. The Office of the Mayor, the Department of Family and Support Services, and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications will provide testimony.
  • December 7, 2023 – Supplemental documents (PDF)Committee presentation
    • Subject matter hearing: Discuss African migration; discuss Haitian migration; and discuss the history of the Welcoming City Ordinance. The United African Organization; The Coalition of Haitian American Organizations in the Chicagoland Area; the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; and the National Immigrant Justice Center will provide testimony.
  • September 29, 2023 – Supplemental documents (PDF)Committee presentation
    • Subject matter hearing: Discuss the roles of the Office of the Mayor; Office of Emergency Management & Communications (OEMC); Chicago Police Department (CPD); and mutual aid groups in welcoming new arrivals.
  • July 26, 2023 – Supplemental documents (PDF)Committee presentation
    • Subject matter hearing: Collect testimony and discuss the roles of the Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS); Chicago Public Schools (CPS); the Office of Emergency Management & Communications (OEMC); and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) in welcoming new arrivals.
  • June 28, 2023 – Supplemental documents (PDF)Committee presentation
    • Call for monthly hearing(s) by Committee on Immigration and Refugee Rights regarding city response to migrant crisis.

CIRR Updates

Get involved

Ald. Vasquez presenting at a community engagement event

If you’d like to get more involved in the committee’s work and learn about upcoming events, please join our mailing list! Our monthly newsletter features upcoming events, initiatives, and other ways to get involved.

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