Hundreds of Illinois Immigrants Protest Statewide Budget Cuts

July 1, 2015

Hundreds of Illinois Immigrants Protest Statewide Budget Cuts

Immigrant Services Organizations Walk Out, Rally in Downtown Chicago

(Chicago- July 1, 2015) – As the State of Illinois begins a new fiscal year without a state budget and funding for vital community services, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and dozens of other Illinois immigrant services organizations are participating in an area-wide Walk-Out to show the impact of the state budget impasse on their communities. Several organizations are closing entirely for the day or providing only emergency services. Leaders from these and other organizations are also joining a rally at the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.

“Immigrant communities are being left behind, despite making up 14% of Illinois’ population, 18% of the state’s workforce and, in Chicago alone, 27% of business owners,” said Lawrence Benito, CEO of ICIRR. “These people have made a significant investment in Illinois, both economically and culturally, and the State should continue to invest in them as the foundation of Illinois’ future.”

The Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI), which makes up less than 0.01% of the state’s budget, has enabled ICIRR and our partner organizations to assist hundreds of thousands of Illinois immigrants connect with vital services. ISLI funds the New Americans Initiative to assist immigrants become American citizens and the Immigrant Family Resource Program to help immigrants gain access to health care and other basic supports as they work toward self-sufficiency. These programs help immigrants gain a firmer footing in our state so they can earn more, pay more in taxes, and contribute further to our entire community.

In a press statement issued on June 12, the Rauner Administration specifically named funding for immigrant services among several items that would be suspended as of July 1 if no state budget is approved by then. The Administration had previously suspended immigrant services funding and other programs on April 3, but restored funding weeks later after a series of protests by ICIRR and other organizations.

Today, with no resolution to the budget impasse, ICIRR and our partners lose ISLI funding, and with it much of our ability to support the thousands of immigrants we serve. Without state funding, nearly 70% of ICIRR’s network will be forced to cut their immigrant programs. Many will also continue to lay-off staff and reduce the number of immigrants they serve, while some organizations will close entirely. The State has no plan for providing the services that will be cut or even disappear with the loss of funding.

“We implore the governor to recognize the damage he is inflicting on the future stability of Illinois,” said Maria Pesqueira, ICIRR board president and executive director of Mujeres Latinas en Accion, a domestic violence service provider on Chicago’s southwest side. “This budget impasse will only worsen the state’s current fiscal dilemma and devastate an infrastructure for serving immigrant communities that has taken over a decade to establish.”

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of more than 130 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. For more information, visit www.icirr.org.

 

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