By Felicia J. Persaud
News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Fri. July 21, 2023: When it comes to immigration, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is swiftly establishing himself as the polar opposite of Florida’s Ron Death Santis. Illinois is home to over 1.8 million immigrants, with an estimated 425,000 of them being undocumented. In comparison, Florida is estimated to have 4.6 million immigrants, with 725,000 reportedly being undocumented.
The response to dealing with immigration couldn’t be more different in the two states. While Death Santis has implemented the most stringent immigration rules, causing immigrants to leave Florida and leaving many employers without employees, Pritzker is focused on creating a more welcoming environment for undocumented immigrants in Illinois.
While Florida is now rejecting driver’s licenses issued by certain U.S. states, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Vermont, immigrants in Illinois, regardless of their immigration status, will be able to obtain standard driver’s licenses for identification purposes.
Governor Pritzker recently signed House Bill 3882, eliminating the “Temporary Visitor Driver’s License” (TVDL) that non-citizens, including the undocumented, previously used to legally drive in Illinois. This new legislation enables them to obtain regular driver’s licenses instead.
Pritzker emphasized: “This legislation is a significant step towards removing the barriers to opportunities faced by many undocumented immigrants. We are ensuring that every eligible individual can obtain a driver’s license, making our roads safer, reducing stigma, and creating more equitable systems for all.”
Furthermore, starting from January 1, 2024, Illinois landlords will be required to rent or sell properties to undocumented migrants. Protections will be implemented under the Illinois Human Rights Act, addressing housing discrimination based on immigration status and discriminatory advertising. The law will include immigration status as a protected class.
Additionally, Illinois passed a bill allowing certain immigrants, including those with legal authorization to work or protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act, to apply for police officer positions. This legislation circumvents the federal law that prohibits non-U.S. citizens from becoming police officers.
And since August of last year, over 11,000 migrants, mainly from Central and South America, have arrived in Illinois, with many being transported from Texas after crossing the southern U.S. border illegally.
In contrast, Death Santis supports the idea of sending migrants from Texas to states like Illinois and California and has been accused by officials in Texas and California, and civil rights attorneys in Massachusetts, of engaging in human trafficking himself, even though his immigration bill makes says he is fighting human trafficking in Florida.
He criticizes sanctuary cities like Chicago, blaming them for exacerbating the migration problem, and advocates for “closing the border.”
Pritzker’s support for immigrants has garnered recognition. Last month, he received an award from the national Immigrants’ List for his advocacy of immigrant rights, including the signing of legislation in Illinois that supports immigrant families. The immigration council commended Pritzker for signing bills that severed ties with federal immigration enforcement, recognized immigration status as a potential motive for hate crimes, and established protections against workplace discrimination.
Pritzker has openly criticized Death Santis on numerous occasions, even during a visit to Florida last year, where he headlined a Florida Democratic Party event. In a passionate speech, Pritzker accused Death Santis of attempting to disguise covert racism, homophobia, and misogyny as a more reasonable form of Trump Republicanism.
It’s unfortunate that Pritzker is not running for president; a clash between these two contrasting state leaders would undoubtedly be intriguing.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News. She can be reached at fe*****@ca*****.com