For several months, the Chicago Tribune and Injustice Watch teamed up to report on the challenges facing Illinois’ aging undocumented population in a four-part series of stories focused on access to health care and housing.
The project was inspired by ongoing stories of community members undergoing financial hardship, yet remaining resilient. And it was backed by a report that revealed that the senior undocumented population will increase by 1,300% in the next decade in Illinois.
Most immigrants without legal status arrived in the country decades ago and have lived here without a viable pathway to citizenship. Mexican immigrants will make up two-thirds of the undocumented older adult populations in Illinois, followed by immigrants from Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeastern Asia, and Central America.
Now, this generation of immigrants faces the prospect of having lived and died in the shadows. Undocumented immigrants are blocked from accessing social programs that many seniors rely on, such as food stamps, public housing, Medicare and Social Security insurance — programs that they pay billions of dollars into every year. Their families and communities weave a patchwork of formal and informal resources to make up the difference.
Local activists and organizers say it’s up to state and local governments to protect all seniors regardless of their immigration status at the lack of federal assistance.
What does it all mean? At noon on Wednesday, join Chicago Tribune reporter Laura Rodríguez Presa and Injustice Watch reporter Carlos Ballesteros for a Facebook Live conversation in Spanish, featuring a panel of experts who will help dissect the series, its meaning and potential effect.
- Luvia Quiñones: Serves as the Health Policy Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). In this role, Quiñones oversees the Immigrant Health Care Access Initiative and in collaboration with ICIRR’s members develops ICIRR’s health policy agenda with a special focus on access to health care and on health care reform.
- Erendira Rendon: Vice president of Immigrant Justice at The Resurrection Project (TRP). Rendon created TRP’s Immigrant Justice Department and serves as the organization’s lead strategist and manager of local and statewide campaigns that affect the lives of immigrants. Rendon is the daughter of undocumented seniors.
- Adela Carin: A community lawyer helping to connect undocumented seniors to resources available in the Chicago area.