Dan Rowell

This project was a finalist for the 2018 “Best In-depth Reporting in a Community Newspaper” and “Best In-depth Report or Series” in a specialty or trade publication Peter Lisagor Awards from the Chicago Headline Club

South Side Weekly has partnered with 90 Days, 90 Voices to bring you “La Vida de La Villita: The Life of Little Village.” Little Village is home to an estimated twenty thousand undocumented immigrants, more than in any other neighborhood in Chicago. It is also home to the largest commercial strip outside of Michigan Avenue, contributing $900 million each year to Chicago’s economy. But changes in immigration policies under President Donald Trump and increased fears of deportation have hit the neighborhood hard.

In this issue you will find Little Village organizers, residents, and business owners talking about the challenges facing immigrants today in their neighborhood. These include the Chicago Police Department’s gang databases and the uncertain future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. You will also find stories celebrating the resilience and beauty of the neighborhood in the face of such challenges and the incredible strength of residents who refuse to let fear or trauma hold them back.

In publishing these testaments, we have gone to great lengths to protect those sharing their stories. In our reporting, we seek to avoid the “second wound”— the harmful impact that inaccurate and careless reporting can have on immigrants. As journalists, we believe we have an obligation to protect sources and not jeopardize their psychological state or immigration status. At times in this issue, pseudonyms and illustrations are used to protect those who may be in danger of deportation but nevertheless hoped to share their experiences. We encourage others who are interested in reporting about immigrants to explore our guidelines to ethical immigration reporting at 90days90voices.com.

This special issue of South Side Weekly was produced by 90 Days, 90 Voices, a nonprofit organization that uplifts vulnerable voices and strengthens immigrant communities through storytelling. Our work has been featured on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight,” in the Chicago Tribune, and on Chicago Public Radio. We are the winner of the Chicago Headline Club’s “Best Online Start-Up” award for 2017.

90 Days, 90 Voices is grateful for support from the International Women’s Media Foundation Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists as well as from individual donations. To support more journalism like this, visit 90days90voices.com.

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Jimena Martinez“Being undocumented was a limitation but also a drive. I wanted to go to college. I was determined to find a way.”

Jaime di Paulo“We all leave for a reason and for most of us it’s because we want a better life. It’s simple.”

The Sweetest DayAfter Trump’s inauguration in 2017, some businesses along 26th Street lost fifty percent of their sales.

Faustina Montoya“I worked at night and took care of my children during the day. And my husband worked during the day and took care of our children at night. That’s how we worked and saved money.”

Omar Magana“It’s important to know you’re able to come here to Little Village and be okay.”

Nuestra VillitaPhotography from Yollocalli Arts Reach’s Camera Flux class

Viento“People are more scared to go out now. Immigration can get them at any time. But while running, you momentarily forget about it.”

Fanny Diego-AlvarezPeople here are really part of a larger community, and we are here to stay.”

Inside the Gang DatabaseNinety-five percent of the people listed as gang members by the police are black or Latinx.

Little Village Speaks Out About the Gang DatabaseResidents share their stories of how the police tool is impacting their community.

Chuy García“My Tío Chuy told me, ‘You like that bologna sandwich? You’re going to do great in the U.S.’ And he was right.”

Tania Unzueta“I need people to stop saying ‘keep families together.’ If they want to help us, I need them to start saying, ‘abolish ICE.’”

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Join 90 Days, 90 Voices reporters, artists and contributors for a discussion on how to tell stories of immigration together on Thursday, July 26 at 6 pm at Azucar (3617 W. 27th St., Chicago). This Public Newsroom event co-hosted by City Bureau and South Side Weekly will feature the photographs of Yollocalli students and the screening of a short film.


We’ll share what we learned from our six-months of reporting on immigration in Little Village and highlight some of the work included in the special issue. We’ll also discuss how others can use inclusive, non-harmful methods to report on immigration in Chicago.

Bring your story ideas and questions about reporting on immigration! And be sure to check out 90 Days, 90 Voices’ guidelines to ethical reporting on refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants: 90days90voices.com

View a profile of Azucar produced by South Side Weekly and 90 Days, 90 Voices:

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This fall, 90 Days, 90 Voices is launching Asylum City: a collaborative storytelling project looking at the life and death consequences of seeking sanctuary in Chicago today.

And we need your help! Learn how to support the project by following 90 Days, 90 Voices on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

90 Days, 90 Voices is a nonprofit organization that shares stories of immigration in this time of uncertainty. We are the winners of the 2017 Lisagor award for Best Online Start-Up.

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