Attorney General Madigan urges Governor Rauner to protect Illinois immigrants
Attorney General Lisa Madigan today sent a letter to Gov. Rauner condemning the federal executive orders on immigration and urging him to use his authority to protect all Illinois residents from the harm caused by the executive actions. While there is a temporary halt to the immigration travel ban, other provisions of the Orders could greatly impact the lives of Illinois immigrants.
The president issued several Executive Orders on immigration. The executive orders instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security to seek agreements with states and localities to authorize local law enforcement to serve as immigration officers. They also directed that sanctuary jurisdictions are not eligible to receive certain federal grants. Another order suspended immigration from seven nations for 90 days and suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days.
In her letter, Madigan stated that the Executive Orders have threatened the future of immigrants and refugees who have settled in Illinois and who greatly contribute to the state. The Attorney General urged the governor to refuse to agree to deputize Illinois law enforcement to work as federal immigration officers, policing immigrants in the state. Madigan also urged the governor to strengthen the state’s efforts to ensure immigrants and refugees can safely settle in Illinois and protect them against hate crimes.
In the letter, Madigan states:
“As a result of the President’s recent Executive Orders, the lives of immigrants, refugees, and asylees who live in Illinois and across the United States have been upended. The Administration’s Executive Orders have closed our country’s doors to many vulnerable people seeking refuge from violence and hatred. America is defined by the immigrants who came here in search of a better life. These Executive Orders have threatened what it means to be an American and the rich history of inclusion and diversity that has made our country great. They have created a culture of fear that signals to many immigrants who live here and contribute to Illinois’ economy that they are not welcome in our state or country.
“The Executive Orders also raise serious legal questions that have resulted in challenges in courts throughout the country and will continue to prompt litigation. I write to urge you to use your authority as the Governor of one of the most diverse states in the nation to protect all of the residents of Illinois – along with our employers and educational institutions – from the harm caused by these executive actions.”
The Attorney General urged the governor to pledge to protect immigrants and refugees in several ways:
Refuse to enter into any agreement that would use Illinois law enforcement authorities as federal immigration officers. Deputizing Illinois law enforcement as immigration officers would not only divert already scarce resources away from public safety efforts and raise serious legal questions, but also undermine the values on which the country was built.
Strengthen the work performed by the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services within the Illinois Department of Human Services, which assists immigrants and refugees settling in Illinois through training, health screening, citizenship classes and other services. From October 1, 2016 through January, 31, 2017, 1,001 refugees arrived in Illinois.
Commit to strong enforcement of Illinois’ anti-discrimination laws and bolster efforts to fight hate crimes against all residents across the state, including immigrants and refugees. Illinois’ hate crime statute provides both criminal and civil protections to those who have experienced hate-based harassment, injury and property damage.
Immigrants make up about 14 percent of Illinois’ population or nearly 1.8 million residents, making Illinois sixth among all states in the number of foreign-born residents. Cook County ranks the third largest U.S. county in its number of foreign-born residents. The benefits of immigration to Illinois are immense. A recent study found that Illinois businesses owned by immigrants produced $2.6 billion in business income in 2014, with immigrants composing 22 percent of the entrepreneurs in Illinois and immigrant-owned businesses employing over 280,000 people.