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General Assembly passes bill to block discriminatory registry programs with strong bipartisan support

SPRINGFIELD (May 30, 2018)--The Illinois House on Wednesday passed Senate Bill 3488, the Anti-Registry Program Act, which would set up a state-level roadblock against any potential creation of a Muslim registry.

The bill was championed by Senate President John Cullerton, Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch, and the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois, a diverse grassroots coalition dedicated to making sure all Illinoisans live in welcoming and secure conditions. It passed with a wide margin in the House and unanimously in the Senate.

“I am grateful to the members of the General Assembly for passing the Anti-Registry Act,” said Sen. Cullerton (D-Chicago), the bill’s chief sponsor. “No one in Illinois--or anywhere--should have to live in fear of being forced to register because of their religion or any other part of their identity.”

The bill will prevent state agencies from supporting efforts to register groups based on race, color, gender identity, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, or certain other characteristics at the state or federal levels, or privately. The bill also bars the disclosure of any of the aforementioned demographic information to any government agencies for purposes of such a registry.

“We reject the criminalization and surveillance of communities of color,” said Lawrence Benito, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which is a co-convener of the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois. “The unanimous passage of this bill sends a strong message that hate and discrimination have no place in our state. We urge Gov. Rauner to sign SB 3488 without delay.”

The legislation passed the Senate on May 10, 2018 with a 39-0 vote. In the House, the bill passed 93-18 on May 30, 2018.

"A religious registry goes against the values that make us American. Additionally, anti-immigrant sentiment and crimes motivated by hate are on the rise,” said Itedal Shalabi, founder of Arab American Family Services. “The anti-registry bill sends a strong message that Government sponsored discrimination will not be permitted in Illinois.”

“There are some 1.78 million immigrants in Illinois,” said Rep. Welch (D-Hillside), the chief House sponsor of the bill. “At a time when so many of our neighbors are feeling under siege, I want to show the people in my district and across Illinois that we will protect immigrants and refugees no matter what.”

“We applaud the Illinois State Legislature for passing the Anti-Registry bill," said Abdullah Mitchell, Executive Director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. “This bill provides all who reside in Illinois further protection that one’s race, religion, nationality or ethnicity will not form a basis for disparate treatment under the law.”

California has similar law on the books. SB 31, the California Religious Freedom Act, which similarly stops the state from assisting in the creation of such registries. The City of Chicago has enacted a similar ordinance, and U.S. Senate Democrats attempted passage of a similar bill to block any Muslim registry.

“Registries are not a new phenomenon in the United States. We cannot see a repeat of the the devastation and betrayal of Japanese internment,” said Rep. Steve Andersson (R-Geneva). “We have an opportunity in Illinois to proactively reject these type of policies, and it is critical for our elected officials to acknowledge and stand up for what is right and within our values as Americans.”

The bill will now go to Governor Rauner’s desk for a signature.

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