It was Rayna’s first time canvassing so she was a bit nervous about knocking on a stranger’s door, asking them to get out and vote. But after a couple of doors, she was eager to take the lead- quick to offer information about early voting, adept at marking responses on her walk sheet.
As part of our civic engagement work here at JCUA, we joined with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) for a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) canvas in Wheeling, IL, a community in Illinois congressional district 59. Our primary goal was letting voters know that early voting had begun and to encourage them to get their vote in early, providing them with all the details of how to do so and making sure all their questions were answered.
Wheeling is a suburb of Chicago with a large percentage of immigrants and we want to make sure that those voices are heard in this election. JCUA is committed to supporting comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform and whoever takes the seat in the 59th district will be a decision maker in matters of policy related to undocumented immigrants in Illinois.
One of the most exciting parts of yesterday, for me, was the intergenerational nature of our canvas. We had high school students, young people in their 20’s, and adults who have been getting out the vote for decades.
I also found it meaningful to explain to people in the community that we were a group of Jews who cared about immigrant justice and were willing to stand in solidarity with our fellow Chicagoans to make real change in our city, state, and country.
That is what is at the core of our work at JCUA, civic engagement and beyond…bringing the power of Jewish tradition and community to fight injustice.
This partnership is not only powerful for us as JCUA, but also for our partner organizations. A powerful illustration of this comes from Maria, the ICIRR fellow who ran Sunday’s canvas and has been to three civic engagement events with JCUA and Or Tzedek (JCUA’s teen program).
Maria was excited to see some familiar Or Tzedek faces and was impressed by Jewish teens’ commitment to both getting out the vote and immigration reform. She said that after one of our civic engagement events, she went home and told her parents about this Jewish organization and youth leaders who were dedicating their time (their most valuable resource) to fight for immigration justice, even though unjust immigration laws are not directly affecting them.
Maria’s story illustrates the ripple effect of partnering with Chicago’s diverse communities on social justice campaigns. In the days and weeks to come, the canvassers from organizations we have worked with-as well as our own members- will tell their friends and family about working together and our shared investment in compassionate immigration reform as Chicagoans and human beings.