ICIRR applauds the Governor’s proposal to maintain funding for the Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI) at $6.7 million. This line item funds
- the Immigrant Family Resource Program, which helps immigrant families maintain their health and well-being and move toward economic self-sufficiency;
- the New Americans Initiative (NAI), which assists long-term legal immigrants in applying for United States citizenship; and
- Uniting America, which engages volunteers to connect immigrants and natives through tutoring, service programs, and community events.
New Americans in Illinois comprise 14 percent of the population; with their minor children, they account for one in every five of our state’s residents. Nearly three in five of all Illinois immigrants live in the Chicago suburbs, where infrastructure is struggling to match growing need. The programs funded by the Immigrant Services Line Item help keep immigrant families strong and on track to achieve their full potential to contribute to our state.
We are also thankful that Governor Quinn maintained funding for the Parent Mentor Program within the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) budget. The Parent Mentor Program works in 13 communities and 45 schools across Illinois, training parents to work alongside teachers in their neighborhood schools. The funds enable more than 400 parents, mostly low-income, immigrant women, to support 400 teachers on a daily basis and improve academic achievement for up to 10,000 students in low-income schools. The Governor proposed $1 million in funding for Parent Mentors, the same as the current level.
We urge the General Assembly to follow Governor Quinn’s lead and maintain funding for the Immigrant Services Line Item and the Parent Mentor Program. These programs are crucial to the growth and prosperity of our immigrant communities.
We understand that Governor Quinn was faced with tough decisions this year regarding funding for human services, education, and health care. The State cannot adequately meet these and other priorities without new revenue. We appreciate the Governor’s commitment to addressing the fiscal crisis of the State, at the same time maintaining the essential human services that protect our immigrant families and other vulnerable Illinoisans.
ICIRR will continue to work with A Better Illinois, the Responsible Budget Coalition, and Illinois Partners for Human Service and other allies to support our state leaders as they work to identify revenue sources that will ensure essential services and move all Illinois families forward.