House and Senate Republicans Offer Legislative Solutions to Address Migrant Crisis in Illinois

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) speaks at a Capitol press conference joined by State Rep. John M. Cabello (R-Machesney Park), Senator Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport) and Senator Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley).

A group of Republican legislators is stepping up to provide legislative solutions to a migrant crisis that is overwhelming state and community resources.

At a Capitol press conference on Tuesday, State Senators Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport) and Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley), along with Assistant House Republican Leader John M. Cabello (R-Machesney Park) and State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford), discussed the actions that led to the crisis and steps they believe will address it. According to the lawmakers, weak border policies by the Biden Administration and Illinois laws that act as incentives to lure undocumented people to the state are largely to blame for the 34,000 migrants that have come to the state thus far.

“We have a governor and a Chicago mayor who loudly proclaim that Illinois welcomes anyone, regardless of their immigration status, so they shouldn’t be surprised when they show up,” said Senator Chesney. “They rolled out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers, and are now pointing fingers everywhere but at themselves.”

All four legislators represent the region of Illinois that includes the Chicago-Rockford International Airport, and Senator Chesney spoke about the chaos that ensued after a plane filled with over 350 migrants arrived with little notice at the Rockford airport in the early morning hours of New Year’s Eve. “The arrival of this plane threw airport and local officials into a state of panic and emergency mode,” said Chesney. “No one knows if this was a one-time event or if more planes carrying migrants will be landing in Rockford.”

One piece of legislation that will be filed in the coming days is a repeal of portions of the Trust Act that prohibit law enforcement from working with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to ensure enforcement of federal immigration laws.

“For state law to actively prohibit local law enforcement from collaborating with federal immigration authorities via the TRUST Act is a major policy failure that threatens public safety, burdens our local governments, and comes at a huge cost to taxpayers, said Leader Cabello. “Repealing the TRUST Act is absolutely required to solve the Illinois illegal immigration crisis and it’s the right thing to do for the citizens of this state.”

A second policy proposal seeks to roll back laws passed in recent years that provide free healthcare for migrants and illegal immigrants in Illinois – a program that exceeded its yearly appropriation in the first month it was in place. And Democratic lawmakers have expanded the program so this year it is expected to cost taxpayers as much as $1.1 billion. With no co-pays or premiums charged, the highest quality healthcare the Governor offers in Illinois is for illegal immigrants and migrants.

“This program has ballooned out of control, and we can expect this number to continue to grow as more non-citizens learn about the program,” Senator Syverson said. “Yet programs to help Illinoisans with developmental disabilities – whether in services, housing, or jobs programs – have been shortchanged for years. We currently have Illinois veterans who struggle to find adequate services, and we have citizens living with disabilities that struggle to find services. But migrants and illegal immigrants pay nothing for high quality healthcare.”

Senator Syverson said hard-working Illinois families with insurance have deductibles and co-pays and are required to pay premiums, in many cases substantial premiums. Yet at the same time, they are seeing their tax dollars go to fund health programs for non-citizens that provide better coverage than they could ever afford. Even those low-income struggling families who get coverage through the marketplace or Medicaid do not have the same benefits or limitations that the non-citizens’ plan does.

“Our focus as a state should be on taking care of our own citizens, especially the most vulnerable, before opening our doors to undocumented individuals from countries all over the world,” Senator Syverson said. 

A third bill would provide a framework that migrants and illegal immigrants can use for free travel back to their home country or to another sanctuary city or state.

“Illinois taxpayers deserve accountability and solutions; and right now both those are lacking in the Administration’s response to the migrant crisis. The initiatives we outlined today will help deliver meaningful solutions if Democrats are willing to work with us,” Representative Sosnowski said.

According to the legislators, the legislative package is being finalized and will be filed prior to the February 9 deadline for the introduction of bills.

Click the PLAY button to watch Rep. Sosnowski’s remarks at the press conference.