Rauner veto a ‘slap in the face’ to immigrant crime victims

jjc 053118SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto Friday of legislation intended to improve relations between immigrant communities and law enforcement is a step backward that will punish victims and shield criminals, said Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton, the lead sponsor of the proposal.

“This is a slap in the face to crime victims who happen to be immigrants. The whole idea was to foster trust between police and immigrant communities. You want immigrants to report crime, because criminals aren’t checking immigration status,” Cullerton said. “Gov. Rauner’s veto is a misguided step in the wrong direction that will ultimately shield criminals and punish victims.”

Cullerton sponsored the proposed Voices Of Immigrant Communities Empowering Survivors (VOICES) Act to add teeth to an existing federal law designed to encourage people to report crimes and help police regardless of their immigration status. Federal law creates special immigration visas for victims of crime.

Here’s how it is intended to work: When victimized immigrants help police and prosecutors bring criminals to justice, they are supposed to, in turn, get assistance from law enforcement with their official immigration paperwork.

That deal already exists in federal law. The problem is there’s no deadline for that paperwork assistance, leading to criticism that immigrant victims are too often left in legal limbo. These are often victims of human trafficking.

Cullerton’s proposal required Illinois law enforcement to sign off on the immigration paperwork within 90 business days.

The VOICES Act, Senate Bill 34, passed the Illinois Senate with bipartisan support.

Sen. President Cullerton

6th Senate District
President of the Senate

Years served: 1979 - 1991 (House); 1991 - 2020 (Senate)

Committee assignments: Committee of the Whole; Executive.

Biography: Attorney; born Oct. 28, 1948, in Chicago; B.A., political science, Loyola University; J.D., Loyola University Law School; served in Illinois National Guard, 1970-76; former Assistant Public Defender and instructor at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy; married (wife, Pamela), has five children.

Associated Representatives:
Sara Feigenholtz
Ann M. Williams