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Immigrant Communities, Legislators Denounce Rauner Vetoes of Immigration Bills

Tue Aug 28 2018

Vetoes come one year after Rauner signed landmark TRUST Act

CHICAGO (August 24, 2018) -- Immigrant community members, state legislators, and leaders with the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois denounced Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of the VOICES Act (SB 34), the Immigration Safe Zones Act (SB 35), and the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act (SB 3103) on Friday. 

Rauner’s vetoes of the bills come at a time when immigrant rights organizations are asking state and local elected officials to take leadership given the White House’s overt hostility toward immigrants. The vetoes also come almost exactly a year after Gov. Rauner joined community members in Chicago to sign the landmark Illinois TRUST Act, a bill that barred state and local law enforcement from arresting and holding individuals based on immigration status or immigration warrants and detainers. 

“The General Assembly passed five bills to protect immigrant communities across Illinois and make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation,” said Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “A year ago, Gov. Rauner signed the TRUST Act, yet today he announces vetoes for three bills that would make our state more welcoming. One moment he is addressing the needs of immigrant communities, and the next, he is using hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric to rationalize rejecting bills that are vital to our communities.  Can immigrants really trust this governor?” 

“We discussed these bills with the governor's office in good faith," said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, executive director of PASO - West Suburban Action Project. “His vetoes lay bare their lack of transparency and disregard for immigrant communities, and put the safety of thousands of Illinois residents in danger.”

The VOICES Act, SB 34, would protect immigrant survivors of domestic violence by standardizing the process across Illinois for them to get certifications from law enforcement agencies in order to seek federal protections. 

“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, the chief House sponsor. “But apparently Gov. Rauner is not listening.”

“We work with many survivors of domestic violence who try to work with police and prosecutors, only to see law enforcement ignore their requests to fill out a simple certification form,” said Linda Tortolero, executive director at Mujeres Latinas en Accion. “All we want with the VOICES Act are clear standards for law enforcement to get these forms back to the survivors who need them. It's hard to understand what Governor Rauner is thinking in vetoing this bill.”

The Safe Zones Act, SB 35, would develop model policies to protect immigrants against ICE arrests at courthouses, schools, hospitals and other sensitive locations. 

“My greatest fear is needing acute care and being subject to deportation and being separated from my family,” said Osbaldo Reyes, a disability rights leader with Cambiando Vidas and Access Living. “Safe Zones would address the apprehensions that I, along many other persons with disabilities, have as we seek the care we need.”  

“The Safe Zones Act addresses real fears in immigrant communities about whether their families can go to school, seek medical treatment, and even go to court,” said Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Westchester).  “By vetoing this bill, Gov. Rauner is irresponsibly putting these families and their children at serious risk.” 
The Immigrant Tenant Protection Act would bar landlords from evicting or threatening tenants based on their actual or suspected immigration status.  

“This bill seeks to address incidents throughout the state of landlords threatening Latino and other minority tenants,” said Rep. Theresa Mah (D-Chicago), lead House sponsor of the bill. “This bill was the result of careful negotiations among immigrant and housing advocates and realtor groups. I cannot fathom why the Governor would veto it.”

In addition to the vetoes, the Governor’s office announced the signings of the No Registry Act (SB 3488) and Immigrant Professional Licensing Act (SB 3109). 

“The signings of SB 3488 and SB 3109 are victories for our communities, and a recognition of our power,” said Andy Kang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. “But in this moment where new anti-immigrant policies come from the White House every day, we need our governor to be with us 100 percent of the time, and to not turn his back on us when it’s politically convenient.” 

“Policies that protect our communities are critical at a time when ICE is terrorizing our families and our neighbors are living in fear,” said Ruiz-Velasco. “Our communities have mobilized all year to pass these common sense bills, and we won’t stop until Illinois truly is the most welcoming state in the country.” 

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