Immigrant and Refugee Leaders Launch Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois with Hundreds in the State Capitol

Released at: April 17, 2017
Contact: Sophie Vodvarka


Leaders lobby state legislators to create welcoming spaces, fund immigrant and refugee services, and pass fair wages in Illinois.

(SPRINGFIELD, IL — March 15, 2017) Hundreds of leaders from immigrant and refugee organizations throughout Illinois descended on the State Capitol this Wednesday for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Springfield advocacy day. Leaders demanded that elected officials support immigrant, refugee and labor bills that make up the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois.

The advocacy day began with a press conference and rally in the Capitol rotunda, followed by leaders meeting with elected officials. “We’re here today to send a message loud and clear to our elected officials: Our communities deserve protection!  Everyone deserves to live in peace,” said  Inhe Choi, Executive Director of Hana Center. “Now more than ever we need to support immigrants seeking citizenship, and to enact legislation that will keep our immigrant and refugee communities safe.”

    The 2017 Goals for the “Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois” include:
  • Pass the groundbreaking legislative packages that will make Illinois welcoming to immigrants and refugees
  • Register 10,000 new Americans to vote Pass or strengthen welcoming ordinances in six municipalities throughout Illinois
  • Train 500 navigators to conduct Know-your-rights workshops throughout the state
  • Assist 6,700 applicants for citizenship or renewal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
  • Organize 16 citizenship workshops from Rockford to Beardstown, and Moline to South Chicago
  • Educate 1,000 community members on their rights throughout Illinois   
  • Assist over 7,000 callers this year through our Family Support Hotline: 1-855-Help-My-Family
  • Provide ESL and Civics trainings for over 7,000 students throughout the State
  • Collectively, directly impact 25,200 individuals throughout Illinois!

Participants spoke to their state legislators regarding several specific immigrant and refugee, and labor protective legislation, including the Immigrant Services Line Item in the state budget, the Illinois TRUST Act (HB 3099), the Immigrant Safe Zones Act (HB 426), the Student Access bill (HB 2394), automatic voter registration (SB 1933/HB 3695), full funding for adult education through the Illinois Community College Board, and an upcoming $15 statewide minimum wage bill.

Leaders from ICIRR member organizations who attended the lobby day include: Arab American Family Services, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Access Living, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Centro Romero, Chinese Mutual Aid Association, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Chicago Religious Leadership Network, Chicago Votes, Erie Neighborhood House, Enlace Chicago, Family Focus Aurora, Casa Michoacan, HANA Center, Hanul Family Alliance, Interfaith Leadership Project, Instituto del Progreso Latino, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, LOS, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Next Gen, Project Irene, Southwest Organizing Project, Justice for Our Neighbors, West Suburban Action Project (PASO), SEIU-Health Care, South Suburban Immigrant Project, The Resurrection Project, University YMCA (Urbana).

Additional Information: State Representatives Theresa Ma, Lisa Hernandez, Will Guzzardi, Jaime Andrade, and Emanuel Chris Welsh were in attendance.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of more than 130 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. For more information, visit