As news has centered on the plight of hundreds of families who have been separated while trying to enter the US through Mexico, concern has been raised over the ultimate destiny of about 1,500 children being held in detention centers and shelters. There are at least 66 of those children in Chicago, according to Heartland Alliance, a non-profit with nine shelters for unaccompanied minors there.
While officials and citizens push for answers, advocates in the state are calling for three pieces of legislation they helped draft to be signed into law. They all passed through the state legislature over spring session, and have until the end of the month to go to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his consideration before they die. His spokesperson would not say if Rauner has yet decided if he'll sign them.
In the above interview, we hear about those measures, which are listed below. Also included is the voice of Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel for Illinois Colation for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. In reference to a six day operation in Chicago ealier this spring in which about 150 immigrants were detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Tsao said, "Some of (those people detained) may have even been ordered deported without their knowledge, and yet here we are ripping apart their families and ripping apart their households and their communities. There has to be a better way."
Tsao also point to the decline in numbers of refugees that the US has resettled. Numbers are down from around 15,500 individuals resettled in 2016 - to close to 3,000 last year.
The three measures worked on and advocated for by the ICIRR are as follows:
- The "Illinois VOICES Act" SB 34 aims to encourage undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual assualt and human trafficking to go to local authorities. The auhtorities in turn have a 90 day period to report the claims to the federal government. In a press release, legal counsel for ICIRR, Trisha Teofilo Olave, states, "SB 34 ensures that immigrant survivors will have equal access to the U visa throughout the state of Illinois.”
- The "Anti-Registry Program Act" SB 3488 would prevent state agencies from supporting any efforts to register groups based on facets of identity like religion, race or country of origin.
- The "Illinois Safe Zones Act" SB 35 would have the Attorney General put together guidelines on how public institutions like schools, hospitals and courthouses can limit assistance to federal immigration enforcement.