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Rauner At Odds With Immigrant Rights Advocates After Vetoes

Bruce Rauner
Daisy Contreras
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS
Gov. Bruce Rauner last week vetoed legislation earning the ire of advocates and some lawmakers in the General Assembly.

Gov. Bruce Rauner last week vetoed three pieces of legislation, earning the ire of immigration advocates and some lawmakers.

The measures aimed to give undocumented immigrants greater protections from law enforcement and landlords who may report them for their legal status,  as well as increase protections for immigrant crime victims who cooperate with police investigations. 

Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said Rauner has shown sympathy in the past. The governor last year signed into law the Trust Act, which prohibits state and local police from detaining or arresting a person solely because of their immigration status. 

Tsao said he and other advocates are not sure what factors Rauner took into consideration when he vetoed the bills. "It’s really frustrating to see him using anti-immigrant rhetoric and taking really harsh lines regarding immigrants and disrespecting their contribution to the community and the state," he said.

One of the vetoed measures, the VOICES Act, received bi-partisan support in the General Assembly and is the only one of the three that has a veto-proof majority. Tsao said it will be brought up for an override vote in November when legislators return to Springfield. 

According to Tsao, the Voices Act would protect immigrant survivors of domestic violence by speeding up the process for protective visas. Advocates say protective visas are already standard procedure, but there is no set deadline for police to submit paperwork for certification.

“In this #MeToo moment, when all of us are more aware and need to be more responsive to gender-based violence, the VOICES Act would send a strong message that law enforcement needs to listen,” said Rep. Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez, a Cicero Democrat, in a statement. “But apparently Gov. Rauner is not listening.”

In his veto message, Rauner said he believes expediting the process may present some liability issues for police, who need to first verify if the applicant is eligible.  "Requiring certification within a tight timeline but also subjecting law enforcement to perjury if a mistake is made is an unacceptably risky position to put law enforcement in," Rauner said in his statement.

The governor said this responsibility should be left to the states attorney in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. 

Rauner did sign two other immigration-related measures, including one prohibiting the creation of a registry based on national origin and another allowing the issuance of professional licenses regardless of immigration status. 

Daisy reported on statehouse issues for our Illinois Issues project. She's a Public Affairs Reporting program graduate from the University of Illinois Springfield. She also graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and has an associates degrees from Truman College. Daisy is from Chicago where she attended Lane Tech High School.
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