Immigrant Families Suffer from Governor's Actions


April 8, 2015 | Chicago, IL

Thompson Center rally

Erie House staff and participants rallied for human services at the Thompson Center Wednesday, April 8.

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-Ill.) announced last Friday that he will freeze $26 million in FY15 funding for numerous human services programs across the state, the impact of which will likely be felt most deeply by low-income Illinois families.

Among the suspended services are those under the state’s Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI), including the Immigrant Family Resource Program and New Americans Initiative. With funding amounting to $3.4 million through June 30, 2015, these programs provide legal assistance, education and other resources aimed at integrating immigrants and their families into mainstream society.

“We are sorely disappointed in the governor’s decision to freeze spending for these programs,” says Celena Roldán-Moreno, executive director for Erie Neighborhood House.

Omitted from the governor’s proposed FY16 budget unveiled earlier this year, the ISLI programs are viewed as a vital service to immigrants trying to navigate a constantly evolving system. Although they anticipated broad cuts to their programs, advocates were dismayed by the governor’s plans to slash the ISLI entirely, and this recent halt on spending for immigrants only exacerbated their angst.

In response, Roldán-Moreno accompanied Erie House staff and participants for a rally today downtown at the James R. Thompson Center to call on the governor to restore ISLI funding.

“The funding we receive helps us extend a hand to immigrants as they move toward self-sufficiency,” explains Roldán-Moreno, whose organization’s Citizenship and Immigration Program serves 1,600 individuals each annually. “We have learned that our communities are healthier and stronger when we invest in programs that empower immigrant families.”

Roldán-Moreno also points out the research that suggests ISLI programs actually improve the state’s economic fortune over time. “Studies show that naturalized citizens earn as much as $20,000 more per year than noncitizens in Illinois,” she says, citing an assertion by Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights—a statewide network of immigrant-serving organizations of which Erie House is a member—that this impact could result in as much as a five-fold return on investment in the form of increased tax revenue.

“When you take this into account, the governor’s actions seem shortsighted,” she says. “Not only are we neglecting the needs of hardworking immigrant families and their children, we’re also ignoring the significant contributions immigrants make to our state’s economy.”

In addition to petitioning the governor to restore ISLI funding for FY15, Roldán-Moreno and her staff at Erie Neighborhood House will continue advocating for its inclusion in the 2016 budget slated to go into effect on July 1, 2015.

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Erie Neighborhood House (ENH) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that reaches 18,000 people annually, empowering them to build better lives while strengthening their communities. ENH offers Chicago’s Latinx and diverse low-income residents a range of community-based education programs. With forward-thinking leadership, ENH is committed to continuing its legacy of cost effective, award-winning programming. For more information, please visit

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