Pritzker: Illinois a ‘firewall’ against Trump’s ‘wrongful’ immigration policies

The new laws would create a pathway for citizenship for undocumented children who have experienced trauma and extend legal guardianship for children whose parents have been detained.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs two immigration bills at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen.

Tina Sfondeles/Chicago Sun-Times

Responding to President Donald Trump border policies he dubbed “wrong for America” and “wrong for Illinois,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday moved to strengthen Illinois’ immigration laws — signing bills designed to protect the children of undocumented residents.

The new laws would create a pathway for citizenship for undocumented children who have experienced trauma and extend legal guardianship for children whose parents have been detained.

They are the latest in a series of immigration bills the Democratic governor has signed, prompting Pritzker to vow “the state of Illinois stands as a firewall against Donald Trump’s attacks on our immigrant communities.”

Pritzker signed the measures the same day that protesters lined the Marriott Marquis Chicago in Chicago as the hotel hosted a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conference.

It was also Day One of a new Trump Administration policy that will fast-track deportation regulations to include the removal of undocumented immigrants who can’t prove they have been in the country for two years or more.

“As you know, I do not agree with the President of the United States with his Department of Homeland Security, his CBP and others who are enforcing these wrongful new regulations, and I think we need to speak out, and we need to speak out loudly today as they are in town,” Pritzker said. “Perhaps they will hear us louder and more clearly, today.”

One of the bills ensures that children are able to have short-term guardians if their parent is detained or deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE. The short-term guardianship would double the 365 days normally allowed. It also allows a judge to grant guardianship if a parent can’t provide consent because of a separation.

“As long as Washington is dominated by a philosophy that threatens Illinois families, we can and will give parents the dignity of knowing that their children are in trusted hands, allowing them to name a short-term guardian in the case of their own detention or deportation,” Pritzker said.

The other measure enables adoption, family, juvenile and probate courts to petition for a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a visa for children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned, the governor’s office said.

Speaking of Trump’s announcement on Tuesday of a new class of undocumented immigrants to be subjected to expedited deportation, Pritzker said the president is “demonizing people who don’t look and think like they do.”

“That’s wrong for America and it’s wrong for Illinois,” Pritzker said. “I believe in an Illinois that is proud to call the 1.8 million immigrants our neighbors and friends — a state where one in six workers is an immigrant and where 120,000 immigrant business owners fuel our economic growth.”

Amid a threat of ICE raids in Chicago last month, Pritzker signed three other immigration measures. Those included banning private civil detention centers; prohibiting law enforcement from engaging in federal immigration enforcement with ICE and allowing undocumented and transgender students to receive Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants.

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