Members from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), including CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, met with Chicago’s mayoral candidates at a small conference held at the ICIRR office in the Chicago Loop on Friday, January 7, 2011.
The featured candidates were former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun and City Clerk of Chicago Miguel Del Valle.
The conference brought together ICIRR board members and community leaders to discuss the issues of immigration and refugee rights with the candidates. ICIRR is a coalition of 140 organizations which use social and civil services to assist immigrants and refugees in Illinois and Chicago.
Rehab and the other ICIRR board members spoke to Braun and Del Valle to understand how each candidate approaches these issues as well as how they will work directly with immigrant groups.
“It’s important for voters to be informed on the candidate positions,” said Rehab. “The Mayor of Chicago holds a sort of national leadership role, such as the Mayor of New York.” He added that it is important that Chicago, its neighboring cities, and the nation understand where the potential Mayor of Chicago stands on immigration and refugees.
All of the questions that were presented to Braun and Del Valle were asked by the audience. News media were not allowed to question the candidates.
Many people asked questions regarding “insuring immigrant education, job security, violence and deportation,” according to Ryan Yusuf Hillard, Development Coordinator at CAIR-Chicago. “Muslims should know the issues presented to the mayoral candidates because the candidates relations concerning immigrants will affect them,” said Hilliard.
Del Valle said during the conference that he is “against any sort of discrimination.” Del Valle added that the Muslim community has more good to offer and we should not be swayed by the negative comments seen in the media.
When the question was posed to Braun she said that “discrimination against Islam or any ethnicity is not allowed in Chicago.” She stated that cases of discrimination and even racism will not only be condemned but Braun will also stand with the Chicago Muslim community to bring the public together in order to fight discrimination.
CAIR-Chicago wishes to work with the future Mayor to help resolve issues of “Islamophobia.”
ICIRR and CAIR-Chicago have contacted mayoral candidates Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico to hold a similar conference with them but so far only Chico has agreed to meet.