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Hundreds Of Chicagoans Mobilized To Defend Immigrant & Refugee Rights Saturday

By aaroncynic in News on Jan 16, 2017 6:00AM

Photo by Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist

More than a thousand people packed into a hall at the Chicago Teachers Union headquarters Saturday afternoon for a rally for immigrant rights.

The rally, organized by dozens of local community groups, labor organizations and faith leaders, was one of more than 50 similar events that took place across the nation, meant to mobilize people around what organizers in Chicago called a “platform for resistance, unity and respect.”

Amid brightly colored balloons while holding signs that read things like “resistance, unity and respect” and “immigrant rights, workers, rights, human rights,” ralliers chanted “the people united will never be defeated” and “peace, love.”

“During this crucial period of transition our communities are standing together stronger than ever. Our diverse allies will continue to protect this country’s immigrant and refugee family and strengthen resistance to mass deportations, hate crimes, criminalization and intolerance,” said Lawrence Benito, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

The platform put forth by ICIRR calls for elected officials and other leaders—both local and national—to promote policies and resources that make Illinois a “safe and welcoming” place for immigrants and refugees, as well as policies that limit interaction between federal and local law enforcement including detentions based on civil immigration detainers or warrants and an end to private immigration detention centers in the state. The federal platform includes demands to oppose a Muslim registry, support for the BRIDGE Act, and opposition to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“I came here one year ago, said Rehab Alkadi,” a Syrian refugee. “After I fled the war and the destroyed everything, it destroyed our dreams. We didn’t want to be refugees here, but the difficult situation there forced us to abandon our country...We want people to know when we come to America we’re not trying to be a burned, we just want to live in peace with dignity.”