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Diversity Issues Task Force
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Many municipalities face similar challenges in the process of addressing their changing populations. However, they often face these challenges in isolation or without the benefit or knowledge of concrete activities undertaken by other municipalities, and with limited understanding of the context of groups' experiences, culture and norms. Rodney S. Craig, President, Village of Hanover Park and Co-Chair, Diversity Issues Task Force
The Diversity Issues Task Force offers local officials the opportunity to engage in productive discussions with their peers, sharing their successes and learning from each other. William D. McLeod, President, Village of Hoffman Estates and Co-Chair, Diversity Issues Task Force
 

Immigrant Integration in Chicago’s Suburbs: A Survey of Current Activities and Efforts

In early 2011, members of the Diversity Issues Task Force became interested in learning how municipalities from the Chicago metro area are addressing the changing needs of their communities given the influx of immigrants into the suburbs. As a result, in June 2011 the Caucus embarked on a project to gather information on immigrant integration efforts taking place in suburban municipalities. A survey was distributed to the 272 suburban mayors of the Caucus and follow-up interviews were conducted with selected municipalities. The result of this research is the attached guidebook – “Immigrant Integration in Chicago’s Suburbs: A Survey of Current Activities and Efforts.” It contains profiles of municipalities that are making efforts to address the needs of their immigrant populations and information about organizations that provide resources to immigrants living in the suburbs.

Members of the Diversity Issues Task Force hope that this Guidebook will serve as a resource for municipal leaders to use when looking to design programs to serve the immigrant population in their communities. The Task Force also hopes it will spark a conversation about the common challenges municipalities face in addressing the needs of their changing populations and how municipal leaders can work collaboratively to identify creative solutions in order to best address the needs of all residents living in the Chicago metro area.

As a follow-up to the project, municipal staff are invited to attend bi-monthly roundtable discussions on the issue of immigrant integration.  Each roundtable will focus on a different topic and will offer staff the opportunity to share ideas and learn about activities taking place in neighboring municipalities. If you are interested in sending staff to the roundtable discussions or would like more information about the quarterly Task Force meetings, please contact Allison Milld at amilld@mayorscaucus.org or (312) 201-4507.

Latino Suburban Roundtables a Success

In 2007, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus joined with the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies Metropolitan Chicago Initiative to host four Roundtables focusing on Latinos in the Chicago region. Mayor Larry Hartwig, Mayor of the Village of Addison and the Chair of the Caucus’ Diversity Issues Task Force, and Sylvia Puente, the Director of the Metropolitan Chicago Initiative, co-chaired these Roundtables. The Roundtables included representatives from a number of communities, including Addison, Aurora, Berwyn, Blue Island, Carpentersville, Cicero, Elgin, Joliet and Waukegan, as well as members of the Latino community and representatives of the organizations that serve them.

The first Roundtable focused on the demographics and basic information regarding Latinos in the Chicago region: where are they living; how are they participating in the economy; how are various communities responding to the growing influx of Latinos? The second Roundtable examined issues surrounding housing: what types of housing do Latinos generally inhabit; how does the affordability of a community impact Latino housing patterns; how can communities and community-based organizations address overcrowding issues? The third Roundtable focused on education: what are educational best practices regarding teaching English; how can you get parents involved in their children’s school life? Finally, the fourth Roundtable looked at what is happening with immigration reform and immigrant integration efforts at the federal, state and local level. Participants learned about initiatives in Chicago, Addison, and Palatine designed to incorporate all members of a municipality in order to create a stronger community as a whole. In December 2007, the Caucus and the Institute for Latino Studies released Forging the Tools for Unity, a summary of the Roundtables and their recommendations, which can be found here.

For more information on this report, please contact Allison Milld at the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus: 312.201.4507 or amilld@mayorscaucus.org.