Immigration Issue introduction
In covering immigration over the past year, I realized how the term immigration is far broader than I initially thought. What comes to mind for many is policy or what is happening at the border. While we often cover those things, there’s more to it. The story of immigration is the story of people who have come to Chicago from across the globe, whether recent arrivals or multi-generational families who live in the city’s communities. It’s the story of people fighting against racism and war while struggling for workers rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, housing, and education equity—all which are issues of our time. And in the pursuit for human rights, Haitians, Nigerians, Mexicans, Chinese, Ukrainians, Venezuelans and others are connected.
That is why I’m excited to present this special issue. To understand what is happening in Ukraine, I interviewed Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, a scholar on the Black experience, race, and ethnicity. I also talk to community groups who say long-term solutions are desperately needed for recent asylum seekers in Chicago. You will also find a short story taking place on the U.S.–Mexico border and a book review of Against the Wall, about a border agent-turned-immigrant activist, both written by Samuel du Bois. Matthew Murphy explores what’s behind the popular Chinese Shen Yun performance while Chima Ikoro and Chandrikah Rukh explore immigration and culture in The Exchange. There are also important explainers on how to help recent immigrants, sanctuary laws, and REAL ID.
If you have any pitches for stories, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
City ad dollars to be spent on independent media
On October 26, 2022, Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed an executive order designating that City of Chicago departments allocate at least fifty percent of their annual advertising budgets to community media outlets like the Weekly. This effort was led by the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), their researcher (and Weekly senior editor) Sam Stecklow, and countless other advocates in local media. In October 2020, CIMA began replicating a study by the Center for Community Media at the City University of New York (CUNY). The New York City project produced a similar Executive Order that resulted in a multi-million dollar shift to community and ethnic media. Jhmira Alexander, President & Executive Director of Public Narrative, described the impact of this shift in Chicago’s own local media: “Chicago is a leader in hyperlocal journalism. This is a significant step for advancing equity of voice in Chicago and beyond. Agency marketing and advertising dollars will offer community media outlets the chance to increase their capacity for coverage and innovation in better serving the different communities in our diverse city.”
Naty’s Pizza in Gage Park charged with underpaying delivery drivers
Four South Side men have sued Naty’s Pizza in Gage Park over wage theft, according to multiple news reports. The delivery drivers, who worked at the location for several years, have said they were paid per delivery and classified as independent contractors when they should have been paid as employees. Asael Espinosa, Javier Castillo, Juan Rosales, and Santos Nava have claimed they were tasked with various other duties without pay, like cleaning bathrooms and stocking merchandise. Another issue was the owner, Abel Rodriguez, only provided them with daily gas reimbursements of $15, no matter how many miles they drove each day. Joined by family members at a press conference outside the restaurant last month, the workers hope to improve their working conditions and receive back pay, which could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Rodriguez could not be reached for comment, though his daughter claimed the workers could have left if they didn’t like the contracts. The two other Naty’s locations in Chicago are owned by different people and unconnected to the lawsuit. The workers are being supported by Arise Chicago, a workers’ justice organization that helps workers recover owed compensation.