SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WREX) — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has signed additional legislation to expand protections for immigrant and refugee communities.
The new laws help provide legal representation for immigrant residents in Cook County and launch statewide public information campaigns to ensure immigrants and refugees in Illinois know their rights.
These new laws are in addition to four pieces of legislation the governor signed into law earlier this month. Those pieces of legislation strengthens the TRUST Act, expands protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and creates the Illinois Immigration Impact Task Force. Governor Pritzker also issued an Executive Order creating the Welcoming Illinois Office.
Here's a look at the two pieces of legislation the governor signed on Thursday:
House Bill 709
To ensure immigrant communities know their rights, the legislation requires the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), in consultation with other state agencies, to conduct public information campaigns to help educate immigrants of their rights under the U.S. Constitution and Illinois laws.
The public information campaign will include resources and contact information for organizations that can help protect the rights of immigrant communities. This applies to refugees, asylum seekers, and other noncitizens residing in Illinois, regardless of their immigration status. The information will be posted in high-traffic public areas, such as train stations, airports, and highway rest stops.
HB 709 is effective immediately.
House Bill 2790
To expand protections for all residents under local and federal laws, HB 2790 creates a path for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office to represent immigrants in removal proceedings in Cook County. The legislation ensures there are no jurisdictional conflicts, such as lawsuits against the county to prevent or prohibit public defenders from representing clients in federal immigration court.
In counties with a population of more than 3 million, the bill states that a public defender can act as an attorney to noncitizens without a fee or an appointment in immigrant cases. The law is limited to circumstances located within the geographical boundaries of the county where the public defender is appointed, unless the board authorizes representation outside of the county. If an individual who does not speak English as a first language is being detained and faced with representing themselves in immigration court, this legislation helps ensure they have fair and equitable representation.
HB 2790 is effective January 1, 2022.