CREEC attorney and Director of the Immigration Detention Accountability Project, Liz Jordan, participated in the Chicagoland Immigration and Disability Summit 2019 this fall.
At CREEC, we take seriously the education part of our name. Participation in conferences, trainings, and meetings to share and learn is crucial to our work and central to our organizational values. I was so excited to accept the invitation to participate in the Chicagoland Immigration and Disability Summit 2019, hosted by two long-standing partners, Access Living and the National Immigrant Justice Center. The goal of the summit was to explore the intersection of disability and immigration rights with advocates and directly impacted people, forge relationships, and develop concrete tools for advancing the rights of immigrants with disabilities. Plus, I was excited to finally meet in person many people in the Chicago area who I had previously only emailed with!
On the first day, I presented on a panel titled, “Current Disability Rights for Immigrants: Legislative and Regulatory Landscape.” We discussed the applicable disability laws and constitutional protections for immigrants with disabilities. I focused my remarks on the rights of people in ICE custody. Later that day, I was honored to moderate a panel of fearless advocates who discussed the tools they use to support immigrants with disabilities. I was also very moved to listen to a panel of immigrants with disabilities sharing their stories of coming to the U.S. and navigating the immigration and other systems here.
On the second day of the summit, I presented on a panel titled, “Spotlight: Mental Health and Immigration”. Here, I focused my presentation on our recently-filed Fraihat v ICE litigation, which challenges ICE failures to provide adequate mental health care and discrimination against people with disabilities, including mental health disabilities. It was empowering to share the panel with a community organizer who supports people in detention with mental health disabilities and a NIJC attorney who represents detained people with mental health disabilities. In the afternoon, we worked on developing a road map for better advocacy and practiced developing advocacy plans for immigrants with disabilities using real-world scenarios.
Overall, it was such an invigorating experience sharing our work, learning about the work of others, and putting our heads together about how best to work together moving forward to advance the rights of immigrants with disabilities. This is why we love education at CREEC!