In the coming months before the February municipal elections, the Weekly will be profiling not only the candidates for public office, but also the grassroots movements that shape the political landscape in Chicago communities. Over the next few months, we will be asking mayoral and aldermanic candidates about their positions on each of these movements.
Tania Unzueta is a fierce advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants around the country. She helped found the three organizations that defend the rights of immigrants, including Organized Communities Against Deportation and its predecessor the Immigrant Youth Justice League, and Mijente, a national Latinx organization. She was first arrested for staging a sit-in in Senator John McCain’s office in 2010 in support of the Dream Act. These days, she continues to work with OCAD and serves as the policy director for Mijente, a political hub that calls itself pro-Latinx, pro-Black, pro-woman, pro-queer and pro-poor.
Faustina Montoya is from the Mexican state of Guerrero and has lived in Chicago for twenty-seven years. She has five children and can be seen running down the sidewalks of Little Village three times a week as part of Viento, the local running group. 90 Days, 90 Voices sat down with her to hear about her decision to come to the United States and settle in Little Village.
Jaime di Paulo is the executive director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, di Paulo was recruited to come work with the thriving business community here. He sat down with 90 Days, 90 Voices to talk about how President Trump’s election has impacted Little Village, an oft-overlooked economic powerhouse.
Jimena migrated to the United States with her parents and two siblings when she was five years old. For a long time, she tried to suppress her memory of crossing the border. It wasn’t until she was a lot older that she was able say that it wasn’t a dream.
Asylum seekers occupy the uncertain ground between outsiders and refugees. Unlike refugees, who are pre-screened by the government and can access public assistance upon arrival, asylum seekers find their own route to the U.S.—sometimes illegally, sometimes by visa—and are ineligible to receive any government assistance while awaiting a decision on their cases.
On August 5, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers raided a gas station on Belmont and Milwaukee Avenues that has long been a hiring site for day laborers (jornaleros) in Chicago. A group of workers—most of whom specialize in construction and landscaping—gathered that morning, as they do every day. They waited for employers who regularly come by to make job offers and negotiate a pay rate. The workers who frequent this particular site in Albany Park are black, Polish, Eastern European, Latinx. Some are immigrants, and some are not.
Mi esposo llegó del trabajo, le di de comer y se bañó. Y yo le dije, ‘vamos a ir al parque con los niños, ¿no quieres ir?’ Me dijo ‘no, váyanse ustedes.’
My husband came back from work, I gave him something to eat, and he showered. And I tell him, ‘I’m going to the park with the kids, do you want to come?’
At the corner of 19th and Carpenter, Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) gathered for a public forum introducing their new report on immigration reform, Destructive Delay. Written in response to President Obama’s call for patience from immigration rights groups, and to bring to light the practices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the report gives a voice to the undocumented immigrant population. Tania Unzueta, the main author of the report led the evening’s presentation. Continue reading