Looming State Budget Cuts and Erie's Community

March 2, 2011 | Chicago, IL

By Francisco Martinez

SPRINGFIELD, IL, February 16, 2011—The Governor of the State of Illinois, Pat Quinn, outlined the state’s latest budget. With increased revenue due to a controversial tax increase already in place the Governor has called for more cuts to state funded entities, one of those services: a 74% cut to Immigrant and Refugee Services across the state of Illinois starting July 1, 2011. This would impact a considerable amount of children, families and state supported agencies like Erie Neighborhood House and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).

“Proposed state budget cuts would total 74% in the last two years, with a 56% cut proposed for next year alone. Refugee services are scheduled to a 69% cut next year”— confirms ICIRR. These cuts will directly hurt thousands of immigrant families across Illinois!

The Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI) within the Illinois Department of Human Services is the only part of the State of Illinois budget that specifically assists immigrants to become full contributors in Illinois, with U.S. citizenship assistance; emergency food, healthcare, and domestic violence assistance to immigrant families in crisis; and economic development, English, and welcoming, and volunteerism programs. ISLI will go from $8.6 million in FY10 to a proposed $2.5 million in FY12. Refugee services would go from $3.85 million to $1.18 million.

With the proposed budget cuts impacting Erie Neighborhood House, Celena Roldan, executive director had this to say “The proposed cuts to the Human Services budget for FY 11 and pending reductions for the state FY12 budget would dramatically impact Erie’s mission to be able to provide critical services for immigrants, children, teens, and working families. We cannot be asked to make these reductions mid-year and certainly cannot allow the state to balance the budget at the expense of the most vulnerable populations”

Approximately 600 legal permanent residents were assisted by Erie House in the last year, receiving high quality services at no cost. The citizenship program, which assists permanent residents as they navigate the complex and confusing immigration processes, is strong because applicants already know and trust Erie House; however the looming cuts would detriment the process. “We have been struggling to maintain our level of service with the shrinking budget over the last few years and another cut, especially the size that is currently proposed would bring an end to our program,” said Megan Granados, New Americans Initiative Program Coordinator at Erie Neighborhood House

Unfortunately, last week the State slashed $100 million in funds for this current fiscal year which ends June 30th. With these proposed cuts 15 small immigrant-serving agencies will collapse immediately, and 118+ social workers in immigrant communities will lose their jobs!

The numbers if the cuts are approved:

47,052 fewer families will have access to basic services

6,462 more kids will go hungry

3,998 fewer immigrants will become U.S. citizens

Help stop these cuts by acting now. Call the Governor of Illinois' office at 312-814-2121 and ask him to please correct this terrible mistake and restore immigrant services for fiscal year 11 and fiscal year 12 to FY10 levels. You can also call on Latino Caucus State Legislators and other Legislative Allies to withhold their support for this Budget until Immigrant Services are restored for the rest of this and the next year.


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