ICIRIR 2024 Policy Platform

JCUA and our partners in the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) are advocating for a robust immigration agenda in 2024

State Campaigns

State Revenue

Without expanded sources for state revenue, ICIRR’s ability to enact programs that provide basic sustenance and economic justice for communities will remain limited. ICIRR needs permanent solutions that will generate more funding for the state, so that all families will have their necessary support. ICIRR is proposing a revenue package that would raise close to $3 billion in new revenue for the state. 

Win $40 million demand for Immigrant Services in budget

The Immigrant Service Line Item (ISLI) provides funding for direct cash assistance to immigrants, citizenship application assistance, English classes, DACA and citizenship application fee waivers, and resource navigation for immigrants throughout Illinois. The General Assembly has approved $38 million for ISLI during the past two years, so ICIRR is requesting a slight increase in funding for next year.

Win $50 million for continued cash assistance for those ineligible for federal public assistance

Over the past three and a half years, the cash assistance portion of ISLI (known as the Immigrant Family Support Program) has been funded via a mix of ARPA federal dollars and state General Revenue Funds. However, the money will be fully spent by June 2024. The program is well established and has been a valuable investment in immigrant communities, so ICIRR is pushing for level funding of the program at $50 million (through ISLI). This will serve as a step toward a broader cash assistance program for all who need it beyond this fiscal year. 

Protect and expand healthcare for ALL in Illinois

Illinois has passed a series of laws that provide medical coverage for low-income immigrants age 42 or older and children age 18 and younger regardless of their immigration status. The Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors (HBIS) and Health Benefit for Immigrant Adults (HBIA) programs have now been limited due to concerns regarding their cost. ICIRR will defend these programs against harmful restrictions, and continue to push to further expand coverage to include all other income-eligible immigrants regardless of their status.

Child Tax Credit for All Tax Filers

ICIRR and their allies in the Economic Security Illinois Coalition can build on our spring 2022 victory in expanding the state Earned Income Credit to reach immigrant households who file tax returns using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers and other excluded families. The next phase would create a permanent state child tax credit, similar to the expanded federal credit created during the COVID pandemic, for each low-income household – including ITIN filers, and a system for simplified tax filing to better enable households to claim the credits to which they are entitled.

State Guaranteed Income Pilot

ICIRR and their allies are supporting the creation of a state-level guaranteed income pilot program. The program would provide monthly cash payments to some mothers who are receiving Medicaid during their pregnancy and through the first year after birth under the Moms and Babies program, and to selected people experiencing homelessness or re-entering the community after incarceration. People would be eligible regardless of immigration status. We believe that this pilot could provide the basis for a broader permanent state-level guaranteed income program.

Education for All

The right to free public education hinges on a 1982 Supreme Court decision that some anti-immigrant advocates want to overturn. ICIRR plans to guard against this possibility by writing into state law that every child in the state is entitled to free public education regardless of their own or their parents’ status. 

Work Beyond Employment Authorization

If DACA ends  a result of court rulings or action by a future federal administration, people who have DACA need to protect their right to work and people who never had employment authorization are aware of the opportunities to work. ICIRR plans to work with the Illinois Secretary of State and other agencies to promote models for work regardless of federal employment authorization, such as independent contracting and worker cooperatives. We are also following the Opportunity for All campaign in California (which argues that federal work authorization restrictions do not cover states) to see how we might replicate their efforts to arrange for the University of California and other state agencies to hire undocumented people.

Restrict Data Sharing

Even as many communities and states (including Illinois) have enacted policies limiting information sharing and other communication with ICE, ICE has still gained access to personal information from government agencies (such as the Illinois Secretary of State), utility companies, and other sources through third-party data brokers that buy this information and then sell access to ICE. Limiting the ability of state and local agencies to share this information (as ICIRR did with the driver’s license bill passed in spring 2023) will help protect everyone’s privacy and ensure that information for immigrants and other individuals will not be abused.

Criminal Legal Reform

The criminal legal system still channels immigrants into the deportation pipeline despite several existing laws intended to protect them from removal. ICIRR is working with allies among public defender offices, progressive state’s attorneys, and other allies to identify, develop, and pass further fixes to state laws to further shield immigrants from potential deportation.

Federal Campaigns

Legalization for all (CHIRLA, FIRM, and other allies)

While it is unlikely that Congress will approve any legalization program while control remains divided between the two political parties, we are still pushing for a broad, generous legalization program that provides a clear path to citizenship for all undocumented people. We have joined the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and several of our allies among other state-level coalitions to push for legislation to amend the registry provision in the immigration laws, which allow immigrants who arrived before a certain date (currently January 1, 1972) to apply for green cards. The proposal would create a “rolling registry” that would enable immigrants to legalize after seven years in the United States.

Hold ICE Accountable

The Biden Administration has set forth priorities for who it will target for immigration enforcement: people with criminal convictions, people who post national security threats, and recent border arrivals. ICIRR is working to ensure that ICE is not pursuing people who fall outside those categories, but also using its broad discretion for people within those groups and considering the damage that deportations inflict on families and communities.

Defund ICE (working with Detention Watch Network)

The federal government spends $25 billion each year on immigration enforcement with little accountability from ICE or CBP but devastating impacts on families and communities.  The Defund Hate campaign seeks to reduce this funding and shift it to other programs and policies that respect and rebuild communities and provide safety and care for immigrants seeking refuge or otherwise vulnerable to deportation. ICIRR will continue to build support for these efforts among Illinois’ Congressional delegation and the broader community.

DACA Defense

A federal court has struck down both the Obama Administration’s original DACA program and the Biden Administration regulations that tried to write the program into law. ICIRR must ensure that DHS maintains protections for people who have or would be eligible for DACA and for others at risk of deportation, and guarantee that people trying to renew will not see any gaps in their protection or work authorization due to DHS backlogs. ICIRR also needs to continue to push Congress to pass legislation that will finally grant permanent legal status to everyone who has or qualifies for DACA and everyone else who remains vulnerable to deportation.

LIFT the Bar

Under the 1996 welfare laws, most immigrants are ineligible for Medicaid and other federal public benefits even after they have received their green cards.  This five-year bar harms immigrant families who need health care and other support, which hurts the entire community.  The LIFT the BAR and HEAL Acts would remove these restrictions and enable immigrants who are able to get green cards to receive the care they need.