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Senate advances protections for immigrants who assist police

jjc 042618 SPRINGFIELD -- Immigrants who are crime victims and who help police would be guaranteed that their immigration paperwork would be processed under a proposed law the Illinois Senate supported Thursday.

The goal of this proposal is to encourage crime victims to come forward and work with police without fear of their immigration status. In return, police would be required to process immigration visa paperwork for these crime victims who assist with investigations.

Senate President John Cullerton sponsored the proposal. He noted that criminals don’t discriminate by immigration status.

“If undocumented immigrants report crimes and help police catch criminals, it will make our communities safer for everyone,” Cullerton said. “We all need to work together. This proposal is an effort to recognize and encourage that.”

Currently in these situations, there is no requirement that a police agency assist with immigration paperwork, nor is there any deadline for completing the paperwork.

As such, undocumented immigrants tend to not report crime for fear of being detained or deported.

Cullerton’s proposal attempts to change that by requiring police help immigrants who help police, and it puts in place a 90-business day deadline.

The proposal, Senate Bill 34, is known as the Voices Of Immigrant Communities Empowering Survivors (VOICES) Act. It passed the Senate 37-9 on Thursday and next moves to the Illinois House for consideration.

The proposal follows last year’s TRUST Act that spelled out that Illinois police should not be doing the work of federal immigration agents.