CIRR Community Engagement

Understanding immigrant and refugee challenges through community engagement

One of the core beliefs of our Committee is that we can’t be effective at understanding the specific challenges and barriers that immigrants and refugees face without engaging with them directly and consistently. Here are some of the ways we do that:

  • Visiting landing zones and shelters for new arrivals to make sure we have a good understanding of conditions on the ground;
  • Working with mutual aid and community-based organizations to understand the specific, point-in-time needs of different communities;
  • Partnering with other non-profits and cultural organizations that serve the immigrant and refugee communities to ensure that they have the resources they need;
  • Supporting legal clinics in Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Employment Authorization Document (EAD or “Work Permit”) applications hosted by other entities

Check out upcoming events for immigrants and new arrivals! Events listed include those that are sponsored by the Committee, and events hosted by our partner organizations.

If you’d like to get more involved in the Committee’s work and learn about upcoming events, please join our mailing list!

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Know Your Rights Workshops

A presenter at a Know Your Rights workshop
February 2024 Know Your Rights workshop at Jameison Elementary. Presented in partnership with Indo American Center, UIC International Human Rights Clinic, Public Defender’s Office, Illinois Workers in Action, Illinois Comptroller’s office, Panas en Chicago and Venezuelan Alliance.

The Committee for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (CIRR) also hosts Know Your Rights workshops and CityKey events around the City for immigrants and new arrivals to connect them with resources and community.

Know Your Rights workshop topics

  • Labor Rights: Workers rights for newly arrived migrants, topics include: discrimination, unjust treatment in the workplace, identifying wage theft, recovering pay 
  • Immigration Overview: Learn about eligibility for Asylum, TPS, and Employment Authorization Documents, how to change your address with the immigration court or the location of your court.
  • Criminal and Immigration Law: Overview of Illinois criminal law from the Public Defender’s Office, including: when someone is arrested, how criminal arrests affect your ability to remain in the U.S., obtaining lawful immigration status.
  • Cultural Competencies for New Immigrants: Education and training for new arrivals on cultural competencies and acculturation to develop an awareness of their cultural beliefs and values and how they differ from other cultures, including the one in which they’ve chosen to reside.

In partnership with the UIC Law, Public Defender’s Office, Indo American Center, and other community-based organizations, Know Your Rights workshops inform immigrants about their basic civil rights and provide information about the U.S. immigration system, asylum eligibility and other immigration relief, and U.S. criminal law.

CityKey Events

Volunteers host a CityKey event
March 2024 City Key event at Amundsen High School. Presented in partnership with Partners: Indo American Center, Chinese Mutual Aid Association, Family Focus, HAMOC, 20th District Mutual Aid, Latino Treatment Center, IL Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s Office, Nuevos Vecinos, and Amundsen High School.

CIRR also hosts regular CityKey events in partnership with the City Clerk’s Office and Community-Based Organizations for their clients and broader community. At these events, we provide the CityKey to those in the community who need it so they can access crucial City services.

CIRR piloted this partnership model in June of 2023 for the first time with the Indo-American Center. Based on its success, the committee was able to establish a flagship series. The first CityKey event in 2024 was on March 19th in partnership with Indo American Center, Amundsen High School, Haitian American Museum of Chicago, 20th District Mutual Aid, Chinese Mutual Aid Society, Nuevos Vecinos and Family Focus. We assisted about 200 new arrivals and other migrants in the Northside to get their CityKey. CIRR now hosts these events across the City! Check the Community Engagement calendar above and subscribe to our mailing list for event updates.