Welch Proposes Expanding Safe Zones for Immigrants

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In an effort to provide relief to immigrant students and families in Illinois, state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Westchester, is sponsoring House Bill 426, which would establish protections for immigrants from Immigration & Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) or agencies working with I.C.E.

“The goal of this legislation is to protect people’s rights from invasive actions by the government,” said Welch. “We must stand with those who feel that their government is not fighting for them. Illinois should be a welcoming place to those who are trying to make a better life for themselves.”

Welch introduced House Bill 426 to create safe zones for the 2 million immigrants who currently residing in Illinois, approximately 500,000 of whom are undocumented. The safe zones defined in this proposal include: elementary and high schools, colleges and universities, health care facilities and places of worship. Under the legislation, Immigration & Customs Enforcement officials and agencies working with I.C.E. are prohibited from entering the safe zones without a court-ordered warrant. Additionally, students and their families will only be required to share their immigration status with schools, colleges and universities in a few instances.

“This bill does not require Illinois to become a sanctuary state,” Welch said. “However, it acknowledges the fear of deportation many families face and provides them with somewhere they can go to feel safe. Cities that are welcoming to immigrants and have similar policies see lower crime incidents, stronger economies, lower unemployment and more benefits. While the bill does provide immigrant families with protections they need, it also puts in place policies that make our community stronger. As we try to find ways to move the state forward, common-sense immigration polices like this need to be part of that conversation.”

House Bill 426 has been assigned to the Human Services Committee.

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