Illinois Immigrants Protest Budget Cuts

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Now that the State of Illinois has begun a new fiscal year without a state budget for community services, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, and several other Illinois immigrant services organizations will begin to participate in an area-wide Walk-Out to demonstrate the impact the budget cuts will have in the communities. Organizations across the city will close entirely for a day or will provide emergency services.
“Immigrant communities are being left behind, despite making up 14 percent of Illinois’ population, 18 percent of the state’s workforce and, in Chicago alone, 27 percent of business owners,” said Lawrence Benito, CEO of ICIRR. “These people have made a significant investment in Illinois, both economically and culturally, and the State should continue to invest in them as the foundation of Illinois’ future.”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

The Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI) has enabled ICIRR and its partner organizations to assist hundreds of Illinois families with vital services. Due to budget cuts, ICIRR along with several neighborhood organizations will lose ISLI funding limiting their ability to connect families with life changing services. Without state funding, according to ICIRR nearly 70 percent of their network will be forced to cut their immigration programs and many will continue to lay-off staff and reduce the number of immigrants they serve. In an open letter to the media, Executive Director of Mujeres Latinas en Acción Maria Pesqueira also the ramifications her organization will soon face due to the budget cuts. Like ICIRR, Mujeres Latinas en Acción will be forced to reduce their office hours and lay-off staff members, in addition to turning away women who “face life and death situations.”

“We implore the governor to recognize the damage he is inflicting on the future stability of Illinois,” said Pesqueira, who also serves as ICIRR board president. “This budget impasse will only worsen the state’s current fiscal dilemma and devastate an infrastructure for serving immigrant communities that has taken over a decade to establish.”

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