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Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that the City is, for the first time, opening up nearly 23,000 City-funded internship, volunteer, and job opportunities for undocumented students, or “DREAMers.”
“Chicago is a city that was built by immigrants and I am committed to ensuring that DREAMers have the same opportunities offered by the City to all of Chicago’s youth,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We will open our doors to support talented young people who are committed to their education, building their job skills, and bettering their communities.”
The City will begin accepting applications immediately for approximately 500 City internships, volunteer, and job opportunities offered year-round, 30 Mayor’s Office Fellowships, as well as more than 22,000 opportunities to participate in summer jobs, internships and job training programs offered through the One Summer Chicago program.
“DREAMers and DACA recipients are assets that we need to nurture and develop like precious natural resources for the benefit of the entire community,” said Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04). “They are an integral part of Chicago’s workforce of tomorrow. Once again, the City of Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are leading the way on the inclusion of our immigrant communities.”
In December 2012, the Chicago New Americans Plan highlighted barriers that DREAMer students faced, including language barriers and information gaps about the opportunities available to them. These impediments have in the past served as an obstacle for these students and their families, in some cases preventing them from accessing critical enrichment programs.
With the current initiative, the City has worked to identify and eliminate administrative barriers to employment and internship enrollment of DREAMers, and staff and public agency partners will now be sufficiently trained about the nuances surrounding deferred action documentation.
To maximize the availability and access to these opportunities for Chicago’s DREAMers, the Mayor’s Office of New Americans and the Department of Family and Support Services will lead a coordinated outreach campaign in targeted neighborhoods and schools with high concentrations of immigrant populations. These efforts will include distributing informational materials to immigrant students and families, hosting joint community events, and expanding marketing efforts through existing City programs.
“Immigrant and undocumented students face a range of unique challenges and barriers to leveraging their skills,” said Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) Commissioner Evelyn Diaz. “That is why DFSS will work with its public agency partners to inform students and families of these summer enrichment programs and internship opportunities and encourage DREAMers to apply.”
In addition to the summer enrichment opportunities, the City will begin training its staff to ensure they are well equipped to help immigrant students receive accurate and helpful information about opportunities available to them. DREAMers in high school and college will be able to apply to approximately 500 volunteer and internship opportunities offered by the City year round and gain valuable experience in municipal government. In addition, graduate students with deferred action and work authorization who are interested in learning about municipal government and public policy will be able to apply to the Mayor’s Office Fellowship program this upcoming fall.
“We are conducting tailored training for City staff to provide Chicago’s DREAMers with opportunities to excel outside the classroom and obtain valuable professional experience in City government,” said Department of Human Resources (DHR) Commissioner Soo Choi. “With this training, we can ensure that DHR and all City staff are well equipped to provide DREAMers with the information they need so they can continue contributing to this city.”
To date, the City of Chicago has taken numerous steps to support undocumented students. For example, in August 2013, the Mayor announced the start of IL DREAM Act Training for Counselors at Chicago Public Schools to ensure that CPS school staff would be trained and aware of the best ways to support all students by understanding legal challenges that affect the guidance immigrant students should receive.
In August of 2012, Mayor Emanuel announced that $275,000 in private donations had been raised for the Illinois DREAM Fund. With this donation, nearly 100 DREAM youth will be able to complete their first year in City Colleges of Chicago’s College to Career program, ensuring that they have the skills to meet the demand for careers in growing fields.
Parents and students can learn more about the internship, volunteer, and job opportunities offered by the City of Chicago by visiting the Mayor’s Office of New Americans website www.cityofchicago.org/newamericans or calling 311.