Lawmakers, activists lobby to make Illinois a ‘sanctuary state’ for undocumented immigrants

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Two Democratic lawmakers and an immigration rights group lobbied Wednesday for passage of a bill that would make Illinois a “sanctuary state” for undocumented immigrants.

Rep. Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said they are advocating for a bill that would limit the amount of cooperation the state could provide to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

House Bill 1637, the “Keep Illinois Families Together Act, would prohibit local law enforcement from enforcing federal immigration laws, or asking anyone who has been arrested about their citizenship status or place of birth.

The bill would also create rules limiting the amount of assistance public schools, universities, health care facilities, public libraries, or other facilities run by the secretary of state, could provide to immigration officials.

“In a time when separating families has become synonymous with the U.S.-Mexico border, families in Illinois are also under the threat of separation due to ruthless, harmful and lawless immigration enforcement,” Villanueva said, according to The Southern Illinoisian.

“What they’re trying to do is scare our families, our immigrant families, into not being able to report crimes that are happening in their communities, … living in fear of going to work every day, taking their kids to school, just living lives,” she said.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2017 that would cut off federal funding to “sanctuary cities” which refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Chicago has declared itself a sanctuary city and won a case in U.S. District Court in 2018 to uphold a nationwide injunction against the policy.

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