“A Good Day for Immigrants”

In Gov. Quinn’s proposed budget for FY2011, immigrant services were slated to be reduced by 74 percent, which would have been a devastating blow to thousands of immigrant families who depend on these crucial services as well as the agencies and organizations that provide them. But the immigrant community refused to accept these cuts, and decided instead to fight back.  As a result Gov. Quinn has committed to restore the full amount.

Please contact your legislators regarding these two bills:

Smart Enforcement Act (SB2266) law that prevents ICE dragnet deportation programs like “Secure Communities.”

Illinois DREAM Act (SB 2185) Supports hard-working undocumented immigrant students who stay in school with private scholarship funds and legal driving certificates.

[Send an email to legislators in support of these bills]

If you would like to join JCUA in meeting with legislators on these critical issues, please contact Emily Zucker Burns at emily@jcua.org.

Friday, March 4–Gov. Quinn’s Chief of Staff Jack Lavin told Chicago community leaders on Thursday that the proposal to cut immigrant services by 74 percent was “an unfortunate miscommunication” and that “it will be corrected.”

“Our meeting with Chief of Staff Jack Lavin and top aides was extremely productive,” said Jane Ramsey, executive director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. “We must, however, maintain vigilance to ensure that these critical services remain fully funded.”

Ramsey, who is also a board member of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and fellow board members Josh Hoyt, Alie Kabba, Maria Pesqueira, Tuyet Le, Daysi Funes, Selena Roldan were at the Illinois Capitol as part of ICIRR’s “One Nation, One Dream” advocacy day along with more than 700 immigrants from Latino, Asian and Arab communities.

Other than discussing the proposed cuts to immigrant services, activists met with state legislators to advocate for a voting rights act to protect immigrant communities during the redistricting process and the Illinois DREAM Act, which would provide more educational opportunities for undocumented students.

The leaders also met with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to thank him for sponsoring the Illinois DREAM Act. Cullerton said he would consult with the Democratic Caucus, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White to build support for the act.

The group also encouraged legislators to take action on the federal Secure Communities program, which has caused significant numbers of non-criminal immigrants to be arrested and deported.

Chief of Staff Lavin told Ramsey and other leaders that the state and the City of Chicago are under extreme pressure to expand Secure Communities, that they are aware that the program isn’t working correctly, and that they will act soon to fix it.

“We are greatly concerned that the Secure Communities program is causing many families to be separated—including children from mothers—mostly triggered following minor traffic violations,” said Ramsey. “We are urging support for the Smart Enforcement Act, introduced by Sen. Antonio Muñoz, which would prevent these devastating and costly actions.”

And, said ICIRR Executive Director Josh Hoyt, though the fight for immigrant rights is far from over, Thursday’s meeting with state legislators was a good step forward.

“It is clear that we must stay very active in the next several months in Springfield,” said Hoyt, “but Thursday was a very good day for immigrants in Springfield.”

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