The diverse communities represented by CAAAELII have not traditionally worked together and experience barriers to communication. In the past, agencies worked within their communities to solve problems and advocate because of a variety of cultural, language, and geographic barriers. CAAAELII began breaking down these barriers by meeting regularly to strategize, share resources, and discuss ways the coalition can improve delivery of services and other areas of concerns that effect their communities.
In 1997, 12 partner agencies serving immigrants and refugees in the Chicago metropolitan area joined together to form CAAAELII, the Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois. CAAAELII began as an avenue for agencies to pool resources and ideas when teaching citizenship classes to immigrants and refugees seeking to apply for citizenship, recruiting and training volunteer citizenship teachers, and advocating for immigrant and refugee rights.