General Assembly Approves Budget with Immigrant Services Line Item Fully-funded, But Lacking in Other Critical Social Services

July 6, 2017
Sophie Vodvarka
Communications Coordinator
svodvarka@icirr.org
(773) 294-4909

(CHICAGO, IL — July 6, 2017) After an unprecedented two years without a budget, the General Assembly of Illinois overrode Governor Rauner’s veto today, and approved a balanced budget for Illinois, that includes immigrant services. Though long-term fixes are needed to address the state’s $15 billion backlog, going a third year without a budget would be unequivocally catastrophic to Illinois residents who depend on services every day, and would deepen the state’s financial instability.  

Immigrant and refugee services are more critical than ever, given the national threats from the Trump administration that these communities are facing.  The Indo-American Center, a northside agency that serves immigrants in and around Chicago, was deeply impacted by the threat of entering a third year with no budget. “The Indo-American Center provides services to over 35,000 South Asian immigrants and refugees from 35 countries every year. Passing a State budget helps us continue our adult literacy classes and provide critical immigration and citizenship services.” said Selma D’Souza, Executive Director of the Indo-American Center, a member organization of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The budget impasse has been a huge struggle for our agency; we have had to close down some of our services and reduce others. We hope that we can restore our services to where they were in Fiscal Year 2015 when we were fully funded.”

“The damage wrought by the budget impasse has been keenly felt by our allies and the 59 member organizations who receive funding from the Immigrant Services Line Item, some of which is irreversible. However, this vote provides an opportunity to bring much-needed relief to some of Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, and begins to address the financial challenges our state faces,” said Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “We are pleased that immigrant services and the Illinois Welcoming Centers were kept at level funding of $6 million and $1.4 million respectively. This is largely due to the incredible advocacy and organizing efforts of ICIRR member organizations. However, this budget plan cuts $2.5 billion to many agencies across the state and impacts countless communities , with whom we stand in  solidarity.  This budget is not perfect, but it is an important step in the right direction for our state. We will continue to push for long-term budget solutions that are fair, equitable and address the needs of Illinois’ most vulnerable. Today though, we thank the General Assembly for doing the right thing. ”