New law establishes nation’s strongest state-level due process protections against deportation,
makes Illinois a more welcoming state for immigrants
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) signed the Illinois TRUST Act (SB 31) into law this morning, enacting the nation’s strongest state-level due process protections for immigrants who fear any interaction with local police could result in deportation.
The TRUST Act was crafted and championed by the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois, a broad coalition of community, labor and policy organizations largely led by immigrant community members. The TRUST Act was sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton in the Illinois Senate and co-sponsored by Representatives Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Lisa Hernandez in the House. The bill received bipartisan support in May when it passed the General Assembly. This statewide protection is more important than ever in a national environment of ramped-up deportations, DACA benefits at risk, and nationalist fervor sweeping the nation, most recently evidenced by the White House’s pardon of Joe Arpaio, a notoriously racist sheriff in Arizona.
The Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois engaged over 85 organizations and 14,000 individuals throughout the state in education and advocacy events from trips to Springfield, rallies, press conferences, meetings with elected officials and more, throughout the past eight months to advocate for the TRUST Act.
Illinois is now the gold standard for statewide protections against deportation. The TRUST Act restricts local law enforcement from collaborating with federal immigration enforcement agents to detain anyone without a judicial warrant. This law will provide an unprecedented level of protection for Illinois’ half-million undocumented residents who could otherwise enter the deportation pipeline through any simple interaction with police including a traffic violation.
Today’s bill-signing ceremony was a community victory in which key leaders from the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois shared their remarks on the importance of the TRUST Act victory:
Francis Velez a community leader with Mujeres Latinas en Accion praised the bill’s signing today. As a survivor of domestic violence, she feels that the TRUST Act provides critical safeguards to survivors such as herself. “The Trust Act will give me and my community peace of mind that we can go about our lives without fearing that an interaction with police will lead to a deportation,” She said. “The current political climate has led to fewer immigrant survivors coming forward for help, which can be the difference between life and death. Undocumented survivors no longer have to fear that calling the police will result in deportation,” said Velez.
Members of the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) spent months engaging members of the Black Caucus in support of the bill. “We are thrilled that the voices of black and brown communities stood united around the humane principles of inclusion, common sense and fairness, and that Governor Rauner signing this bill today to bring Illinois one step closer to being welcoming for all,” Pastor Ron Taylor, Executive Director of UCCRO said. “Today is a testament of what happens when communities of color build power together for equity, dignity and respect for all,” he said.
Itedal Shalabi of the Arab American Family Services engaged her leaders in Bridgeview Illinois to advocate for the TRUST Act when the efforts began. Citing an increase in hate crimes in the Arab and Muslim community since election day, fearful undocumented members of her community would have nowhere to turn. “However, Because of the TRUST Act, people who look like me no longer have to fear deportation if they call police after experiencing a hate crime, or for any other reason.”
Under the TRUST Act, local police cannot comply with immigration detainers or warrants not issued by a judge. Local police also cannot stop, search, or arrest anyone based on their immigration or citizenship status. The legislation won support of law enforcement as a common-sense approach to create a clear distinction between the work of local police officers and that of federal immigration agents.
“When communities come together to work for justice, we win! Today’s victory is due to hard work of our member organizations, allies, legislative champions Senate President Cullerton, Representatives Welch and Hernandez, law enforcement agencies, and Governor Rauner, who came together to show that the well-being of immigrants and refugees is vital to the well-being of the entire state,” said Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
“We’re glad Governor Rauner did the right thing today and signed the Illinois TRUST Act into law,” said Tuyet Le, Executive Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. “The Illinois TRUST Act will protect immigrant families from being separated by deportation, while enhancing public safety in communities across the state of Illinois.”
“As the federal government escalates its efforts to involve local law enforcement in its expanding immigration dragnet, we are relieved that Illinois communities and lawmakers came together to create strong due process protections and refuse to be complicit in unlawful deportation practices,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center. “Disentangling the work of local police from that of federal immigration agents makes us all safer.”