Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) has taken many trips down to Springfield to educate for legislative agendas and reach out to the representatives that are able to assist in getting those agendas through the House and the Senate. On May 9th, 2023, SWOP headed down to Springfield in support of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) for Asian American Action Day to “hunt” down representatives and get their support behind the “Language Equity and Access – HB 3222” bill. This bill would mandate that translators be provided in state agencies to allow those who do not speak English to be given resources and opportunities in their native language.
Although the Language Equity and Access bill was the star of the show this time around, 300 community leaders were also in attendance to push for Inclusive History Implementation and increasing the funding for the Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI) to $38 million. The day began in the early hours of the morning when community leaders piled into coach buses to go from Chicago to Springfield. Upon arriving, each community member met with their team leads and were pointed to their assigned representatives to find and push for their “Yes”. Through communication and sharing of their stories and experiences, these leaders were to convey the importance and impact that these bills would have for them, their loved ones and their community. Other endorsed legislation included Faith Behind Bars, Faith by Plate, Fix Driver’s License laws to protect immigrants, Protect Illinoisans from Unfair Medical Debt, and Health Care Cultural Competency bills.
The fight for equity across the community continues daily as SWOP hosts informational sessions for community leaders. Legislative issues SWOP is working on can be found below.
- Language Equity and Access HB3222 - pass a statewide bill mandating and funding expanded language access for state agencies, create an Office of Language Equity and Access and continue improving language access at the municipal and county level (Lead Org: Advancing Justice | Chicago, Rep. Dagmara Avelar)
- Inclusive History Implementation - $2 million budget appropriation. This funding would enable the IL State Board of Education to fully implement and expand the recommendations of the Inclusive American History Commission.
- Support a pro-immigrant state budget by increasing funding for the Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI) to $38 million. ISLI provides funding for direct cash assistance to immigrants, citizenship application assistance, English classes, DACA and citizenship application fee waivers, and resource navigation for immigrants throughout Illinois including immigrant families harmed by the COVID pandemic as well as refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and other countries (Lead Org: ICIRR)
- Faith Behind Bars - HB 3055 - access for all prisoners in state corrections facilities to their respective faith’s pastoral care and resources (Lead Org: Muslim Civic Coalition, Rep. Theresa Mah and Sen. Elgie Sims, Jr.)
- Faith By Plate - HB 3636 / SB 167 - Kosher, Halal, vegetarian meals at all state-owned and state-operated K-12 schools, hospitals, and corrections facilities (Lead Org: Muslim Civic Coalition, Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid / Sen. Ram Villivalam)
- Fix Driver’s License laws to protect immigrants HB 3882 / SB 2397 - phases out Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses and creates a streamlined process for the Secretary of State by eliminating an unnecessary option (Lead Org: ICIRR, Rep. Barbara Hernandez and Sen. Ram Villivalam)
- Protect Illinoisans from Unfair Medical Debt - HB 2719 / SB 2080 - reduces medical debt in immigrant & Black communities by requiring hospitals to screen patients for healthcare coverage eligibility and assist patients in applying for coverage and financial assistance (Lead Org: ICIRR, Rep. Dagmara Avelar / Sen. Robert Peters)
- Health Care Cultural Competency HB 4654 - cultural competency requirements as part of continuing medical education for a range of health care professionals (Lead Org: Equality IL, Rep. Dagmara Avelar and Sen. Ram Villivalam)