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Senate Latino Caucus meets with immigration advocates (UPDATED)

Senate Latino Caucus meets with immigration advocates

SPRINGFIELD – Senate Latino Caucus members joined Senate President John Cullerton, President Pro Tempore Don Harmon and immigrant and refugee rights advocates this week to discuss the Senate’s recent actions taken to protect immigrant communities.

“I’m the son of hard-working immigrants, and as an elected official it is my honor and duty to support policies that continue to give the immigrant community the opportunities my family has had in the United States of America,” Latino Caucus Co-Chair Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) said. “Donald Trump is trying to take away these opportunities in the land that I love, but policies like these give hope to our people and show we are a force that can use our sacred legislative process to fight back against bigotry.”

Protection of Crime Victims
Senate Bill 34 helps protect immigrants who are crime victims that cooperate with police to apprehend criminals. Those who work with police to stop human trafficking or other severe crimes will receive paperwork to aid in their application for protective visas.

“The current anti-immigrant political climate has forced many into hiding, which makes it easier for human traffickers and other criminals to get away with their crimes,” Assistant Majority Leader Antonio “Tony” Munoz said. “This measure encourages crime victims to come forward and help police make our streets safer for everyone.”

Licenses for Qualified Workers
Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez passed Senate Bill 3109 through the Senate to make all qualified applicants eligible for professional licenses regardless of their immigration status.

“Immigrants contribute to our state by working hard and paying taxes,” Martinez said. “If someone wants to further their career by becoming a licensed professional, we need to do all we can to support them.”

Protection of Tenants
To prevent landlords from taking advantage of undocumented tenants, The Senate passed Senator Cristina Castro’s Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, Senate Bill 3103. The bill prohibits landlords from questioning a tenant’s immigration status as a means of harassment or to force an eviction.

“Most landlords do the right thing, but some try to take advantage of their tenants,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “We have to put a protection in place to ensure that landlords are not holding their tenants’ immigration status over their head to pressure higher rent or eviction.”

Immigrant Safety Zones
The Immigrant Safe Zones Act, Senate Bill 35, is another key immigrant rights measure that passed the Senate.

It requires the attorney general to put in place a model policy to limit assistance with immigration enforcement at locations including state-funded schools, healthcare facilities, public libraries, and facilities operated by the Secretary of State and state courts.

All of these proposals await action in the House.