Govenor Pat Quinn released his state budget plan last week with severe proposed cuts in the social services. Included in that plan was a proposed cut, in the next two years, to immigrant services by 74% and refugee services by 69% from the FY’10 levels. (See Fact Sheet.)
This comes after the governor and Illinois Democrats were able to retain a majority in both the House and Senate. A lot of us breathed a sigh of relief because this meant that the Tea Party wave had not affected the Illinois State elections. Unfortunately, this has not translated into the immigrant community being under attack.
Such drastic cuts to immigrant and refugee services would make Illinois lose its reputation for typically embracing immigrants. Most importantly, it would mean that many organizations that provide services to immigrants and refugees would have to operate at an extremely low-capacity or even have to close its doors.
Although all of this has brought a dark cloud over the state of Illinois, there is light at the end of the tunnel. All over the state, undocumented youth and immigrant organizations are gearing up towards fighting for an Illinois DREAM Act. The bill would create financial assistance for undocumented students throughout the state.
In addition, a lobby day in Springfield has been planned for March 3, 2011, in order to ask our legislators to support the Illinois DREAM Act and to not make such severe cuts to immigrant and refugee services.
If you would like to take action, please start by sending a free message to Governor Quinn and to your respective legislators asking them to not slash Illinois’ future. If you’re seeking to get actively push for an Illinois DREAM Act, please send an email to the Immigrant Youth Justice League.
Rigo P. is a member of the Immigrant Youth Justice League, a non-profit organization of undocumented youth and allies working for immigrant rights through education, resource-gathering, and youth mobilization.