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Immigrant Community Leaders Commit to Fight for Essential Resources, Celebrate Major Wins for Undocumented Illinoisans

As the Illinois General Assembly session ended early Saturday morning, immigrant leaders in Illinois celebrated major wins while committing to continue the fight for community resources. 

“This year ICIRR members ratified and advocated for a state platform that brings our communities closer to FULL CITIZENSHIP - that means going beyond immigration papers and pushing for policies at all levels of government that allow our families and neighbors to live lives with dignity and respect,” said Lawrence Benito, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “Today we’re celebrating landmark wins for ITIN filers receiving tax relief and expanded healthcare to low-income residents aged 42-and-up regardless of immigration status. At the same time, we advocated for $53 million in funding for the Immigrant Services Line Item, and that final number came in under our demand. We will continue to organize with our 100+ statewide members to ensure that this funding source, which has provided tens of thousands of undocumented Illinoisans with direct assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, is made whole.”

Here’s a recap of ICIRR’s EVERYBODY IN, pro-immigrant priorities this session: 

  • Immigrant Services Line Item: The General Assembly approved $38 million in general revenue for the immigrant services line. In addition they provided major increases in funding for refugee resettlement services and immigrant welcoming centers.  ICIRR advocated for $53 million for ISLI to fully fund citizenship supports and fee waivers to low income applicants through the New Americans Initiative, know-your-rights information and resource navigation through the  Immigrant Family Resource Program, and specifically direct cash assistance to struggling families through the Immigrant Family Support Program and our work with Afghan and Haitian arrivals. We will continue to fight for full funding for these programs to serve our most vulnerable communities. 

  • Earned income credit expansion: We won a PERMANENT expansion and increase of the earned income credit. Over one million NEW Illinois residents will be eligible for the credit, including those who file taxes with an ITIN, and workers aged 18-24 and 65+. 80% of all low-income residents in IIllinois will benefit from these changes. This is the culmination of a 3-year campaign alongside the Coalition to Make EIC Work, and has been led by directly impacted tax filers and working families. This will permanently invest $100 million every year for working people in Illinois regardless of their immigration status. ITIN filers will also be eligible for tax rebates that the General Assembly also approved for households who file tax returns for 2021. Our fight continues to win a permanent Child Tax Credit for families across Illinois regardless of immigration status.

  • Healthcare expansion to immigrants aged 42-and-up: This is a major win for our communities that will cover 26,000 more low-income Illinois residents regardless of immigration status. This builds on our previous wins as part of the Healthy Illinois Coalition that expanded healthcare coverage to undocumented Illinoisans age 55-and-up. Our commitment to healthcare for ALL continues. 

  • Legal representation task force: With the passage of the Right to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Act (SB 3144), we’re one step closer to offering legal representation for ALL in Illinois! Once the bill is signed by the Governor, we will work to ensure that seats on the task force are filled and that the ensuing recommendations guide our state toward providing legal representation for all Illinoisans facing deportation or going through other immigration procedures.

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