The Illinois Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-IL) is organizing the Reform Jewish community to act collectively to build a more just and compassionate Land of Lincoln for All. We are locally-led, and the shared priorities identified by our clergy, lay leaders and youth advocates include increasing immigrant justice and racial justice. RAC-IL currently includes more than 25 Reform synagogues (over 80% of our movement), representing more than 50,000 Reform Jews in our state.
Alternatives to Crisis Escalation (ACE) Act
The ACE Act (HB 2944/SB347) is RAC-IL’s racial justice priority for 2021. According to Mental Health America, 1.75 million adults in Illinois experience mental illness, but more than half of them do not receive treatment. Significant racial disparities in mental health and substance use treatment are also well documented. Communities of Color face heightened barriers to effective treatment, including lower rates of insurance coverage, mistrust of the health care system due to decades of abuse, and lack of diversity among practitioners, among others.
The ACE Act is designed to prevent dangerous escalation of mental health and substance use crises by increasing awareness of Adult Mobile Crisis Response services, strengthening capacity and effectiveness of the existing CARES line, and expanding access to these services to all adults, regardless of insurance status. These measures would reduce reliance on “911” emergency calls directed to law enforcement and would help build a foundation for the rollout of a “988” mental health crisis hotline system in Illinois. RAC-IL is proud to support this bill as a partner in the Healthy Minds Healthy Lives Coalition.
Illinois Way Forward Act
The Illinois Way Forward Act (SB 667) is RAC-IL’s immigrant justice priority for 2021. This bill would strengthen compliance with the Illinois TRUST Act and the VOICES Act, both of which were designed to limit local and state law enforcement collaboration with federal immigration authorities, and ensure that everyone in the state can interact with law enforcement when needed, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status. RAC-IL is supporting this bill in partnership with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
- RAC-IL was proud to help secure passage of the Pretrial Fairness Act in January of 2021 as part of the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice. Read more about RAC-IL’s role in making Illinois the first state to completely abolish money bond.
- During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, RAC-IL pivoted our priorities, along with our partners, to successfully advocate for more than $90 million in emergency relief for immigrant families who were excluded from federal stimulus and assistance programs. RAC-IL also participated in a campaign to release more than 1,300 people from Cook County Jail in Chicago, which had become a hotspot for the pandemic. Read more about RAC-IL’s COVID-19 advocacy.
- RAC-IL’s leadership in the Reform Movement’s 2020 Civic Engagement Campaign brought more than 1,000 leaders from 26 congregations into action to generate more than 40,000 voter contacts in Illinois and through our grassroots partners to those targeted for voter suppression in Wisconsin.
- As part of the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois, RAC-IL celebrated the following victories for immigrant justice:
- Keep Illinois Families Together Act (2019) prohibits state and local law enforcement from “deputizing” officers as ICE agents
- Retaining Illinois Students Equity (RISE) Act (2019) allows equitable access to financial aid for higher education for those previously denied, especially DACA and transgender students, as well as primarily African American students disproportionately impacted by under-resourced schools
- Victims of Immigrant Communities Empowering Survivors (VOICES) Act (2018) allows victims of domestic violence and other survivors to report crimes to police without fear of deportation.
Previous Actions and Events
RAC-IL 2019 Leadership Gathering
In February 2019, more than 100 clergy, lay- and youth-leaders convened for the 2019 Campaign Preview and Leadership Gathering. RAC-IL leaders were honored to be joined by Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, as well as local criminal justice reform experts.
RAC-IL's work was made possible with generous seed funding from the Michael & Alice Kuhn Foundation.
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