Organizations that help immigrants say it’s unwise to cut them out of the state budget. The governor’s budget proposal eliminates the immigrant services line item, $6.67 million to non-profit organizations for immigrant services – mostly teaching English to those who need it, and helping immigrants apply for citizenship. The groups say they help immigrants complete 12,000 to 15,000 citizenship applications per year, about one-third of those filed in Illinois.
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Juan Salgado, head of the Instituto del Progreso Latino, says the cuts are not the path to the boomin’ economy the governor says is needed. “By eliminating very value-added services for families and for people that wanna become citizens, we’re actually taking a step back in terms of a pro-growth strategy,” he said.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, in trying to maintain that funding, calculates that immigrants who become citizens produce $9,000 of economic benefit. The coalition also notes that immigrants are 13 percent of the Illinois population, but 18 percent of workers and 15 percent of business owners.