Pritzker signs immigrant protection bills
Rep. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, speaks during an event Friday in Chicago during which Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed three bills into law to protect undocumented immigrants in Illinois. Villanueva said of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, “Peddling fear and threatening immigrant communities strictly for political gain has been and continues to be empty, reckless and insulting.” (Credit: BlueRoomStream)
By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed three bills into law Friday that aim to protect undocumented immigrants in Illinois, policies that he said stand in sharp contrast with those of President Donald Trump.
“Illinois is and always will be a welcoming state,” Pritzker said during a signing ceremony at the University of Illinois-Chicago. “Let the word go out from today that the state of Illinois stands as a firewall against Donald Trump’s attacks on our immigrant communities.”
The measures include House Bill 2040, which bans the development of private, for-profit detention centers in the state, putting an end to plans by the village of Dwight to host such a facility. It also prohibits local governments from contracting or having any financial transactions with such a facility, except for providing food, medical care or other ancillary services.
Illinois already has a moratorium on development of any private, for-profit prisons.
Pritzker also signed House Bill 1637, which prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from performing immigration enforcement functions on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
And he signed House Bill 2691, giving students who are undocumented immigrants but who meet all other academic and financial qualifications access to state-funded student financial aid, including the state’s Monetary Award Program, or MAP grants.
Pritzker made it clear he intends for Illinois policies on dealing with immigration to stand in sharp contrast with those of President Trump. The Washington Post reported Friday that Trump has directed ICE to begin mass roundups, starting as soon as Sunday, of migrant families facing deportation orders. The raids reportedly will target as many as 10 major U.S. cities, including Chicago.
“The job of our law enforcement here in Illinois is to protect and serve our communities,” Pritzker said. “We protect no one by having local police departments act as an extension of ICE.”
Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant And Refugee Rights, said Illinois is making progress, “while our own federal government continues to attack and terrify our communities, putting children in cages, separating families, raiding our neighborhoods, our homes, and our workplaces.”
Rep. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, who formerly worked with Benito at ICIRR, called the Trump administration’s policies “unconscionable.”
“We cannot and must not allow hate to become the status quo,” she said.
Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said he was struck by the contrast between Illinois’ approach toward immigration and Washington’s.
“In the days after the president of the United States in a crass, cruel and immoral bid to boost his reelection prospects has ordered the roundup of millions of our friends and neighbors for having the wrong papers,” Harmon said, “we here in Illinois are enacting laws that say affirmatively, we will not participate in that.”