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Illinois Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-IL)

Our Jewish values are clear. More than 36 times in the Torah we are commanded to love and protect the stranger, the widow and the orphan—in other words, the most vulnerable among us. Now is the time to turn our values into action. RAC-IL is standing with partners in our two priority areas, immigrant justice and criminal justice reform, to build a more just and compassionate Land of Lincoln for all.

 

Immigrant Justice
Keep Illinois Families Together Act (HB 1637)

Families in Illinois are under threat of separation due to aggressive, harmful and often lawless immigration enforcement tactics.

In 2017, our immigrant justice partners with the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois worked with key legislators to pass the Trust Act with bi-partisan support. The bill was ultimately signed into law by then-Governor Bruce Rauner. The Trust Act is designed to increase trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement by placing limits on cooperation between Illinois’ police officers and jails and federal immigration enforcement.

Despite these protective policies, families continue to be afraid to take their children to school, seek medical attention, attend court hearings or seek police protection. The Keep Illinois Families Together Act (HB 1637) will protect immigrant families from being separated by deportation, while enhancing public safety across our state.

Retaining Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act (HB 2691)

Illinois students deserve a chance for equitable access to financial and institutional aid. We must address the needs of college-aged Illinois students who are not eligible for federal aid. The RISE Act would ensure more Illinois students are eligible, including the following populations:

  • Students have lost state aid due to current limits on MAP grants, which specifically harms African American students
  • Undocumented students who are ineligible for federal aid
  • Transgender students disqualified for federal aid for not registering for selective service due to restrictive definitions of gender at the federal level.

The RISE Act does NOT request funding for more state or institutional aid or change financial or academic standing eligibility requirements.

Criminal Justice Reform
The Defelonization Act (HB 2291)

The criminal justice system in Illinois does not live up to its name. For far too many, their experiences in the criminal justice system are anything but just.

Throughout every phase, from setting bail, to initial sentencing, to serving time, to release and re-entry, our system has resulted in mass incarceration, which disproportionately impacts communities of color. The failed “War on Drugs” is a significant factor in this reality, and Sentencing Reform is one of the primary tools for correcting the injustice.

The Defelonization Act (HB 2291) would:

  • Reclassify small-scall drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor,
  • Allow someone serving a sentence for a crime that has been reclassified to petition the court for resentencing or dismissal, and
  • Allow any circuit court or State’s Attorney in Illinois to establish a Misdemeanor Diversion Program for certain offenses to address the person’s substance abuse, mental health or other social service needs, in lieu of incarceration.

Learn more about the brokenness of Illinois' criminal justice system - and how we can begin to reform it - with our partners at ACLU of Illinois.