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1/17/17 – Chicago Tribune: Immigrant, faith, labor groups to join national immigration rally week before inauguration

By Marwa Eltagouri, Chicago Tribune

Community, faith and labor organizations have planned a rally Jan. 14 in support of Chicago’s immigrants, Muslims and refugees, fearing that those groups will be under attack following Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Chicago will join other cities nationwide in rallying that day, less than a week before the Jan. 20 inauguration, as part of a national day of action, Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said at a news conference Thursday morning.

“Jan. 14 is a time to join hands with immigrant, refugee, faith and labor brothers and sisters and their allies to declare, in no uncertain terms, that we will stand in the way of criminalization, mass deportation and hatred in our communities,” he said. “We are our own protectors. We will resist. We will continue to fight for dignity and respect for our communities.

“And we will continue to organize, to build the power to change our failed immigration policies,” Benito said.

During the rally, organizers will promote resistance policies to help communities fight anti-immigrant, xenophobic or Islamophobic attacks on the local, state and federal level. Such policies include limiting the collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration agents in order to disrupt deportations, and the continuance of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“We will lay out our demands on protecting DACA and ensuring that our municipalities are focused on keeping our communities safe instead of working to deport our neighbors and rip our families apart,” said Erica Rangel, an organizer with Enlace Chicago. “That all workers, including immigrants, are able to organize for good-paying, union jobs that will lift them out of poverty.”

Organizers will speak out against any kind of registry for immigrants from Muslim countries, and ask that “safe spaces” be made available at public institutions so that immigrants, Muslims and refugees have access to emotional support and informational resources.

Tabassum Haleem, executive director of the Council of Islamic Organizations for Greater Chicago, said she was concerned about the surge in hate crimes against Muslims in the past year. She cited FBI statistics, which report that hate crimes increased by 67 percent from 2014 to 2015, and that 257 anti-Muslim incidents occurred in 2015.

“This is our home. A home worth fighting for. A home that is under threat not from immigrants, not from Muslims, not from refugees, but from policies that are targeted against marginalized communities of many faiths and ethnic backgrounds,” she said.

The rally is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the Chicago Teachers Union headquarters at 1901 W. Carroll St.

Originally published by the Chicago Tribune