Articles

In 'summer of Trump,' let's make Chicago an immigrant-friendly city

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
by Marc J. Lane



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During this summer of Trump, the nation's undocumented immigrants are under attack. All 11 million of them are unrealistically threatened with mass deportation. And the U.S. House has passed a measure that would strip federal law enforcement grants from “sanctuary cities” that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

But sanctuary cities, including Chicago, don't provide a safe haven for habitual felons, as immigration hawks allege. Since people in fear of deportation are less likely to cooperate with authorities when they witness a crime or become victims themselves, undocumented immigrants aren't rounded up in those cities or detained when they're charged with minor crimes if they otherwise would qualify for release.

Too many in the political class are even targeting people who are here legally, most notably children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrant mothers who, it's argued, hope to parlay their children's citizenship into quick permanent-resident status and eventual U.S. citizenship for themselves.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his rivals have gone so far as to question whether the Constitution's 14th Amendment means what it says, as it unquestionably does, when it grants citizenship to those born on U.S. soil. But since only adults can petition for their noncitizen parents' permanent residence, those parents would need to wait 21 years before leveraging their child's U.S. citizenship to upgrade their immigration status.

A CITY OF IMMIGRANTS

Unabashed nativists have found reason to blur the line between those relatively few immigrants who sneaked into the country or overstayed their visas to harm others or unlawfully enrich themselves and the vast majority of immigrants who came here to chase the American dream along with the rest of us. But in Chicago, a city of immigrants who, throughout the generations, have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life, cooler heads prevail.

Chicago aldermen Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th; Ricardo Munoz, 22nd; and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th, along with representatives of 14 advocacy organizations—the Chicago Immigration Policy Working Group—have taken up Mayor Rahm Emanuel on his challenge to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the nation.

Their proposals include providing access to emergency services for non-English speakers; low-cost legal representation in Chicago's immigration courts; support for immigrant survivors of crime and victims of civil and labor rights abuses; and a privacy- protected municipal ID card for immigrants to access government, banking and medical services.

Let's support the group's proposals to remove the barriers that prevent Chicago's immigrants from living independent and productive lives, and show the rest of the country how respecting immigrant rights works to the advantage of all of us.

Peterborough's problem was daunting: Sixty percent of prisoners serving short-term sentences historically had gone on to re-offend within a year after their release. But policymakers were confident that a solution was within their reach. They attracted private investment to pay experienced social service agencies to provide intensive, multidisciplinary support to short-term prisoners, preparing them to re-enter society and succeed outside the penal system. - See more at: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20131007/OPINION/131009850/a-new-kind-of-futures-contract-for-illinois#sthash.ThgxeiFt.dpuf

The world's first social impact bond, or SIB, was introduced in 2010 to fund innovative social programs that realistically might reduce recidivism by ex-offenders in Peterborough, England, and, with it, the public costs of housing and feeding repeat offenders. Prudently building on the strengths of that initiative, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is rolling out SIBs to help solve some of the state's most vexing social problems.

A SIB isn't a traditional bond where investors are guaranteed a fixed return but a contract among a government agency that agrees to pay for improved social outcomes, a private financing intermediary and private investors. SIBs shift the risk of experimenting with promising but untested intervention strategies from government to private capital markets, with public funds expended only after targeted social benefits have been achieved.

Peterborough's problem was daunting: Sixty percent of prisoners serving short-term sentences historically had gone on to re-offend within a year after their release. But policymakers were confident that a solution was within their reach. They attracted private investment to pay experienced social service agencies to provide intensive, multidisciplinary support to short-term prisoners, preparing them to re-enter society and succeed outside the penal system.

The government decided which goals would be supported, but exactly how those goals would be achieved was left to the private sector. It was the investors, through a bond-issuing organization, who ultimately endorsed the allocation of investment proceeds — how much would be invested in job training, drug rehabilitation and other interventions.

If the Peterborough plan eventually shrinks recidivism rates by 7.5 percent or more, the government will repay the investors' capital and share the taxpayers' savings with them, delivering up to a 13 percent return. If the target isn't hit, the investment will have failed and the government will owe the investors nothing.

Illinois' SIB effort was spearheaded by the state's Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise — the governor's think tank on social issues, which I am privileged to chair — with support from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Aurora-based Dunham Fund. A request for information issued by the Office of Management and Budget on May 13 yielded responses from service providers eager not only to reduce recidivism here but also to create jobs, revitalize communities, improve public health outcomes, curb youth violence, cut high school dropout rates and alleviate poverty.

Now the governor has issued a request for proposals intended to spur better outcomes for Illinois' most at-risk youth — by increasing placement stability and reducing re-arrests for youth in the state's Department of Children and Family Services, and by improving educational achievement and living-wage employment opportunities justice-involved youth most likely to re-offend upon returning to their communities.

Kudos to Mr. Quinn for bringing SIBs to Illinois. May they soon start delivering on their promise.

- See more at: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20131007/OPINION/131009850/a-new-kind-of-futures-contract-for-illinois#sthash.ThgxeiFt.dpuf
The world's first social impact bond, or SIB, was introduced in 2010 to fund innovative social programs that realistically might reduce recidivism by ex-offenders in Peterborough, England, and, with it, the public costs of housing and feeding repeat offenders. Prudently building on the strengths of that initiative, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is rolling out SIBs to help solve some of the state's most vexing social problems. - See more at: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20131007/OPINION/131009850/a-new-kind-of-futures-contract-for-illinois#sthash.ThgxeiFt.dpuf

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Marc J. Lane is a Chicago-based business and tax attorney and financial adviser.

Reprinted from Marc Lane's September 1, 2015 editorial which appeared in Crain's Chicago Business. Crain Communication Inc.'s permission is gratefully acknowledged. Copyright © 2015 by Crain’s Communications Inc.


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