KINETIC Summer Program 2021

Are you an immigrant or refugee CPS high school student? Do you want to develop yourself as a community leader this summer? Join Advancing Justice | Chicago’s KINETIC summer program from July 6th to August 12th! We’re looking for 15 dynamic young people to learn and grow with us this year.

Through our KINETIC summer program, you will have the chance to build community with your fellow leaders from high schools all over the city while expanding your knowledge and analysis of political issues, developing organizing skills, and getting involved in our ongoing city and state-level campaign work.

As a KINETIC leader you’ll become familiar with immigrant and refugee advocacy and organizing in the context of Chicago public schools, and gain organizing skills/knowledge. You’ll build your own analysis of racial equity, education equity, and local school politics. You’ll also understand the importance of culturally relevant education and language access in our schools, and have the opportunity to take on roles in our organization’s campaign work, like our work to implement the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) in our schools. The program will be a mix of interactive workshops, skill/knowledge building sessions, facilitated discussions, and creative projects. There will also be small-group and 1-1 sessions. (more…)

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A Message from our Executive Director

Dear Advancing Justice | Chicago friends and supporters,

I would like to share the news that at the end of June I will be transitioning out of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago to become the new Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Immigration & Citizenship Coalition (PICC). A few months ago, my wife Cassie received an amazing career opportunity that is located on the East Coast. After her unequivocal support of me and my community work for the last decade – including caring for my parents in their final years – I was enthusiastic to likewise support her in this small way. It was fortuitous and perhaps destiny that shortly thereafter I was introduced to PICC and the critical challenges in Pennsylvania, many of which have national implications for the progressive movement.

For nearly the last decade, I have called Advancing Justice | Chicago home and have been privileged and blessed to learn from and advocate alongside some of the finest community organizers and grassroots leaders in the country. Together, we have built a vibrant, bold community that I have complete confidence will meet the challenges facing the Asian American community and live out a vision of active solidarity with other communities of color to work towards racial equity. We launched the Asian American Legislative Caucus (with no Asian American elected officials), advocated for life-saving state funding for Hepatitis B, strengthened Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance, and passed the Illinois TRUST Act, VOICES Act, and Automatic Voter Registration. We have also protected our communities’ voting rights with our poll watching project on election day and improved language services for limited-English voters. These are but a few of the successes that I am so humbled to have been a part of. It is a deep honor to have been entrusted with this leadership position and one that has been rewarding beyond words. And yet, the work must continue with our KINETIC youth and A Just Chi leaders, federal immigration reform advocacy, anti-hate bystander trainings, language justice work, and the chance to make history by passing the TEAACH Act into law, the first-time ever any state has required Asian American history curriculum to be taught in public schools.

I pray that in the coming months, I will have the opportunity to personally thank and meet with many of you if and when the pandemic subsides, but please know that Chicago and Illinois will always be my home and in my heart.

With much love and thanks,
Executive Director

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Board Spotlight: Mark Anthony Florido

Dearest Community,

Her name was Ana, but we all called her Lola Ima. She was my maternal grandmother –  known for her sinigang and her love of shopping. She loved her grandkids, often sneaking us little spoonfuls of coffee as a treat! It’s been more than a decade since she’s passed, but I’ve been thinking about her a lot recently. As more and more news about Asian community members, particularly our elders, being subjected to anti-Asian violence come to light, I can’t help but see my Lola Ima in them. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have a beloved member of my family be a victim to such hate. But I know, I must do something.

That’s where my role as a Board Member for Advancing Justice | Chicago comes in. I am thankful to be able to support efforts that honor my Lola Ima by engaging in work that uplifts the Asian American community and educates our community on how to protect others like her. For example, our bystander intervention training offerings give us some concrete tools that we can use to protect folks like Lola Ima during instances of anti-Asian bias motivated incidents. I am proud to know that through these trainings we are helping to create a safer world for all our Asian family members.

But the work doesn’t stop there. As one of the Core Leaders for A Just Chi, I am in awe of the community’s endeavors to ensure that immigrants like my Lola have equitable access to resources and that they can live their lives without fear. (more…)

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Welcoming City Ordinance is a win by-and-for our communities

Welcoming City Ordinance is a win by-and-for our communities
But work remains to be done to make Chicago truly welcoming to ALL

STATEMENT from the Chicago Immigration Working Group:

As members of the Chicago Immigration Working Group, we organize in order to honor the humanity of our communities, because too often our city and our institutions have not. Our five year effort to amend the Welcoming City Ordinance was a campaign of humanity – one that recognized that no matter someone’s history, layering deportation on top of an already flawed and racist criminal justice system is a discriminatory and wrong. Everyone deserves to live free from fear of deportation. Enacting these amendments brings Chicago a step closer to living up to its values of being a “welcoming” city, and the amendments begin to address one of the many conflicts that exist between police and communities throughout our city by limiting the role of police in our city.

Throughout this campaign we heard directly from undocumented Chicagoans directly affected by the loopholes in the ordinance. We held rallies at City Hall, hosted neighborhood teach-ins, circulated petitions, won the support of city council members, got mayoral candidates on the record, and built a strong, cross-city movement. Today, our organizing has led to a victory that ensures the Chicago Police Department will not honor ANY Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers or warrants, cooperate with ANY immigration enforcement operations, or directly share ANY information with ICE. This is a huge win for our communities, full stop. We recognize all of the elected officials that responded to the demands of the community.

But Chicago still cannot claim to be a truly welcoming city for all. While these amendments go a long way towards cutting off ties from federal immigration enforcement, we do not live single-issue lives. A lack of a real system of police accountability continues to be a serious challenge in our city while resources, priority, and attention continue to be given to structures that exclude, criminalize, and imprison Black, brown, and immigrant communities at the expense of health care, housing, education, and other resources that specifically address root causes. These amendments illustrate that police accountability is possible and necessary, and we have an opportunity to build upon this important victory. To fully achieve our vision of equity, and to be a true welcoming city, Chicago must start to divest from criminalization, begin to invest in our communities, and ensure true police accountability.

We have shown that we can organize and win, and we will continue to do so until the city truly lives up to its “welcoming” name.

Members of the Chicago Immigration Working Group: Access Living, AFIRE Chicago, Arab American Action Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, Beyond Legal Aid, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights, Chicago Jobs with Justice, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, Enlace Chicago, Grassroots Collaborative, HANA Center, The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Latino Union of Chicago, National Immigrant Justice Center, Organized Communities Against Deportations

Brandon Lee, ICIRR
773-259-5288 (call or text)

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U.S. Citizenship Act Makes Strides for Pathway to Citizenship, Family Immigration

U.S. Citizenship Act Makes Strides for Pathway to Citizenship, Family Immigration

Asian Americans Advancing Justice welcomes immigration bill as a start to a more inclusive immigration system

NATIONWIDE – Congresswoman Linda Sanchez introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act, President Biden’s immigration proposal that would offer 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. a path to citizenship with a faster path for DACA recipients and Temporary Protected Status holders. Senator Menendez plans to introduce the same legislation on Monday in the Senate. Among other provisions, the bill also includes Congresswoman Judy Chu’s Reuniting Families Act and her No Ban Act, two pieces of priority legislation for Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five independent Asian American civil rights organizations, issues the following statement:

“Tireless advocacy from organizers and communities across the country has led to the inclusion of key measures that will start the process of truly transforming our deeply flawed immigration system. Asian Americans Advancing Justice commends the President and Congressional leaders in their fulfillment of a campaign promise to offer a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, DACA recipients, and TPS holders that includes 15,000 people from Nepal. Yet several key aspects of the bill fall significantly short of the long-term promise to undo harms levied against immigrants and transform our immigration system.

We celebrate the inclusion of Congresswoman Chu’s Reuniting Families Act and the No Ban Act in today’s legislation. The No Ban Act would restrict the executive power to enact future discriminatory bans such as the Muslim and African Bans and prohibit religious discrimination in our immigration laws. The Reuniting Families Act would start to clear the family-based and employment-based backlogs, providing relief to separated families and Indian families stuck in temporary nonimmigrant visa status. The bill also includes LGBTQ equality provisions in our immigration laws, repeals the harsh three and 10-year and permanent bars to inadmissibility and other relief for immigrant communities. It would also expand the diversity visa program, a main pathway for immigrants from Africa.

While these provisions would positively impact many Asian American and Arab Middle Eastern Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA) community members, the bill includes harmful provisions as well. Specifically, the bill includes new additional criminal grounds of inadmissibility which will further punish vulnerable members of our communities. Immigrants with criminal convictions have already suffered cruelty and racial targeting in our justice system; they should not be doubly punished. The provisions originally in the Reuniting Families Act provided vital protections through waivers, but those presented in this bill fall short and exclude some community members. This comes at a time when large numbers of Southeast Asian refugees continue to be ripped from their communities and deported, often to countries they have never known and mass prosecutions of Asian American and immigrant scholars for espionage-related and large numbers of Asian American and immigrant researchers and scholars are being profiled, targeted and prosecuted for espionage and related crimes when they are not spies.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice will continue to strive to build support in Congress and among the public for truly transformative change in our immigration system including for those with criminal convictions.” (more…)

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