Disability and Immigration Groups Commit to Protecting the Rights of Disabled Immigrants at Groundbreaking Summit -- Say city and state must do better


September 28, 2019 | by Bridget Hayman


Bridget Hayman

Director of Communications


(312) 640-2129

Chicago – Disability and Immigration organizations from around Chicagoland today came together to commit to advancing systemic and service solutions to protect and expand the human rights of immigrants with disabilities and their families. The group commitment of support included the establishment of a task force to carry forward an action plan to address the needs of immigrants with disabilities.

The commitment of support was agreed upon during the first ever Chicagoland Immigration and Disability Working Summit presented by Access Living, a leading disability rights and service organization in Chicago, and the National Immigrant Justice Center, also headquartered in Chicago. 

“The needs of immigrants with disabilities are too often neglected. As a sanctuary city in a sanctuary state, we in Chicago must do better,” said Access Living Director of Advocacy Amber Smock. “It is our hope that today’s resolution is the first step in a much larger ongoing commitment from non-profits, advocacy groups and the government to protect and advance the rights of disabled immigrants in our neighborhoods.”

In addition to signing on to the commitment of support, summit participants will now collaborate on a more detailed action plan to strengthen the protection of immigrants with disabilities in the Chicago region. 

Held on September 26 and 27, the summit was an invitation-only event attended by Chicagoland advocates and legislators including Illinois State Representatives Theresa Mah and Celina Villanueva; Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya; and a representative from the office of U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin also made an appearance.

Community members shared the barriers they face and in breakout sessions, organizations across the disability and immigration spectrum explored possible solutions to these challenges. 

Speakers from the Illinois Department of Human Services, the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Department of Disability and Human Development, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, community members participated among several others

The summit was made possible through the support of the Ford Foundation.