With federal immigration policy stymied, local organizations turn attention to Illinois
Disappointed with a lack of progress on immigration issues at the federal level, immigration rights organizers in Illinois say they are turning their attention to what progress can be made at the state level.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and other organizations will meet virtually on Facebook at 1 p.m. Jan. 26 to discuss how to improve health care and find more money to put toward immigration services.
"As federal immigration reform efforts have stalled in Congress, states need to step up and take a bigger role in supporting immigrant families," the ICIRR said in a statement.
The goals include additional money for immigrant services, including more support for people arriving specifically from Afghanistan and Haiti; an expanded Earned Income Credit to include those filing taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number; and expanding health care coverage to low-income residents from 18-54, regardless of immigration status.
According to White House data, there are slated to be 860 Afghan refugees to be settled into Illinois by the end of this year. No numbers were available on Haitian refugees.
The ICIRR and affiliated organizations have pushed for many statewide reforms and programs to help immigrant families since 2019, including direct cash assistance for families left out of COVID relief, expansion of health coverage for low-income residents age 55+ regardless of immigration status, and the landmark Illinois Way Forward Act which closes ICE detention centers and separates local police from federal immigration enforcement.
Round Lake-based Mano A Mano Family Resource Center has been part of these efforts as well. Mano A Mano Executive Director Celeste Flores will be part of the discussion next week and said she plans to lobby state leaders.
Flores said she has reached out to state Sens. Julie Morrison and Adriane Johnson, and will continue to contact other Lake County legislators.
"Illinois is one of the more welcoming states in the country to immigrants," Flores said on Friday.
"Federally, it seems that not much has changed, but state law is a different entity. There are a lot of champions and people (in Illinois) who prioritize helping community members no matter where they're from. We have work ahead of us to make sure that legislators at the state level recognize this."
Recently, both organizations marched in Chicago and Washington, D.C., to push Senate Democrats to include a pathway to citizenship into the Build Back Better legislation that stalled in Congress.,