Pritzker signs legislation expanding protections for immigrant and refugee communities

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AURORA, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a series of bills into law that aim to enhance protections for immigrant and refugee communities and strengthen the state’s reputation as the most welcoming state in the nation.

Pritzker signed four bills into law Monday: House Bill 121, Senate Bill 667, Senate Bill 1596, and Senate Bill 2665.

House Bill 121 expands protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients by adding a new definition for ‘work authorization status’ to the Illinois Human Rights Act.  The change clarifies that it is a civil rights violation for employers to refuse to hire, segregate, or engage in harassment on the basis of work authorization status.ADVERTISING

Senate Bill 667 strengthens the Illinois TRUST Act and the Voices of Immigrant Communities Empowering Survivors (VOICES) Act to protect immigrant families in Illinois. The bill:

  • Provides clarity around action that law enforcement officials can and cannot take around warrants.
  • Prohibits state or local governments from signing contracts with the federal government to unjustly detain immigrants.
  • Places limitations on local enforcement of discriminatory practices by prohibiting officials from inquiring about the citizenship or immigration status of an individual in custody unless they’re presented with a federal criminal warrant, or otherwise required by federal law.
  • Increases transparency by requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to submit annual reports regarding requests from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Authorizes the Attorney General to conduct investigations into violation of the Illinois TRUST Act.

Senate Bill 1596 expands protections against immigrant communities by amending the Criminal Code of 2012 to include hate crimes based on citizenship and immigration status. The changes will also assist law enforcement officials in identifying and reporting anti-immigrant hate crimes separate from other hate crimes, including the FBI hate crimes database.

Lastly, Senate Bill 2665 creates the Illinois Immigration Impact Task Force to study how state policies and programs affect immigrant residents. The Task Force will consist of 27 members and require the Department of Huma Services to staff and examine a number of issues. The Task Force will submit a report with its finding and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly on or before May 31, 2022.

“Throughout my governorship, I’ve directed my administration to adopt policies that make Illinois a welcoming state for immigrants, and I’m proud to sign these accountability measures into law to advance our cause,” Pritzker said.“Every family, every child, every human being deserves to feel safe and secure in the place they call home. I am committed to making sure that value defines what it means to live in Illinois.”

Pritzker also signed an executive order creating the Welcoming Illinois Office, to report to the Office of the Governor and the Secretary of the Department of Human Services while being housed and supported by the Department of Human Services. Led by the Senior Immigration Fellow, the office will work to coordinate, develop and implement policies and practices to make Illinois a more welcoming and equitable state for immigrants and refugees.

“Fundamental protections for immigrant communities are essential to the welfare of all Illinoisans. I’m thankful for Governor Pritzker’s leadership and the work of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus to ensure that Illinois continues embracing and providing for our immigrant communities. I’m additionally grateful to our community advocates as they’ve continued to prioritize the needs of immigrants in the presence of unique and targeted roadblocks,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “I look forward to working with these stakeholders as we build upon our joint efforts to protect and further the interests of Illinois’ immigrant population.”

House Bill 121, Senate Bill 667, and Senate Bill 2665 are effective immediately, whereas Senate Bill 1596 is effective Jan. 1, 2022.

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Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.