Gov. Bruce Rauner said “no” on Wednesday to a plan offered up by Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling on the state to establish an Illinois Bill of Rights for undocumented immigrants in the wake of President Donald Trump rescinding an Obama-era policy that protected the children of undocumented immigrants.
“I do not believe this challenge for these children can be addressed on a state-by-state basis,” Rauner said. “I think that would not be correct, not be the right solution. We need comprehensive immigration reform, it should be done at the federal level for the entire nation and it should be done by Congress.”
“These children do not deserve to be left in limbo,” Rauner said, urging Congress to act.
Emanuel tried to put his old friend on the spot by introducing a resolution at Wednesday’s City Council meeting urging the governor and the General Assembly to establish an Illinois Dreamers Bill of Rights.
It would provide Illinois Dreamers — as the young undocumented citizens have come to be known — with access to state financial aid and scholarships, professional licenses, job certifications and additional protections against deportation.
The resolution requests: that state law be amended to “allow Dreamers to obtain the licenses and certifications they need to enter additional professions;” that the state follow the city’s lead and establish a statewide legal protection fund to assist immigrants living in fear of being deported and that the Illinois Trust Act be strengthened to “prohibit cooperation or communication with Immigrant and Customs Enforcement.”
Emanuel said “there is a palpable sense of fear that the United States government could rip these kids from their own parents.
“And this is where I totally disagree with Gov. Rauner. Our job is not to hide here behind legal principle when it comes to the value of who and what we are. You are the governor [where] 42,000 young men and women call your state their home. Will you use the power and tools as the governor to protect them from a careless act by the president of the United States to threaten the very things they know and have only known their whole lives?”
Emanuel said he knows where the city of Chicago will stand.
“And the question for Gov. Rauner is, will the speech he gave and the values behind signing the Trust Act into law be consistent or will he abandon those children to the whims of President Trump?”
The mayor was unyielding when told that Rauner had already given his answer and the answer was no.
“The Trust Act that he signed just recently was passed in both chambers with bi-partisan votes,” Emanuel said.
“Gov. Rauner may say that he doesn’t want to do that. [But], I don’t think he speaks for the Legislature,” the mayor said.
“I’m confident that there’ll be bi-partisan support for having Illinois actually be consistent in confronting President Trump. Chicago will. And when you look at the fact that Illinois is home to over five percent of all the Dreamers in the United States, it’s in our self-interest to do that.”
Rauner made his comments at an unrelated news conference during which he signed an executive order creating the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The group is charged with creating a comprehensive strategy to stem the state’s opioid crisis.
“The numbers are staggering,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “Last year alone in Illinois nearly 1,900 people died of an opioid related overdose. For context, that is nearly twice the number of fatal car accidents and one and a half times the number of people who died of a homicide.”
“From 2008 through 2016, 11,000 people in Illinois died of an opioid overdose. And sadly the crisis is getting worse,” he said.
Rauner signed the bill at the Lawndale Christian Health Center, which treats heroin addiction.
The opioid crisis is “devastating families in Illinois and across the United States,” Rauner said.
He said the task force will “bring more coordination and cooperation across every state agency, every law enforcement group, every community organization and health care organization in the state of Illinois to better use our data, better use our training, better use our information and our resources to maximize our impact to protect the people of Illinois.”