The governor’s mixed messaging on his support for immigrants is drawing criticism from an Illinois congressman.
While Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he supports comprehensive immigration reform and the Obama administration’s deferred deportation programs, he’s also proposing cutting all funding to immigrant services in next year’s budget.
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U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Chicago), speaking at Erie Neighborhood House, an immigrant services group in Chicago, says those cuts shouldn’t be implemented. “To the governor of the state of Illinois: you should be in this room, standing with our immigrant community and restoring full funding to the Illinois coalition,” Gutierrez said.
Immigrant services were one of several budget items which were cut off for several weeks after Rauner suspended $26 million in grants in an effort to close a budget gap in the current fiscal year. While that funding has since been restored, it’s still due to be zeroed out in the governor’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016.
Lawrence Benito, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, calls the cut short-sighted, and warns it would hurt the ability of immigrant groups in the state to get people signed up for the deferred deportation programs Rauner has claimed to support.
“The governor had called DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) and expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) ‘a great start,’ but he didn’t seem to realize that many of the agencies that receive funding are the very same organizations where many applicants turn for accurate information and assistance.”