Villa passes resolution calling for work permits for all

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago) led House Joint Resolution 69 to call on the federal government to grant work permits to long-term undocumented workers in Illinois. Following its approval in the Senate, Villa released this statement:

“In my years working as a school social worker, the most devastating conversations I had with my students would be when they came to me and said ‘Ms. Villa, I just found out I’m undocumented.’

“These were students who had lived their whole life in the U.S., sometimes only knowing how to speak English, and now had to figure out what their status meant for their future. The dreams and aspirations of these students, and others like them should not be limited because of their status.

“These are our neighbors, friends and family, who are forced to work low-wage, unsafe and unstable jobs without prospects to rectify their status after living in Illinois for decades. These are workers who were deemed essential during the global pandemic and kept working so we could put food on our tables.

“Undocumented workers in Illinois are at the forefront of key industries, including production, manufacturing and health care. They contribute millions in state and federal taxes each year. These workers deserve safe and stable employment, the ability to retire and not live with uncertainty about their futures.

“Granting work permits to long term undocumented workers would not only protect these individuals, but also raise protections for all low-wage workers, alleviate current labor shortages and tap into additional revenue.

“For years, we have urged the federal government to act and while we still await comprehensive reform, I hope this resolution gets their attention and they acknowledge the overwhelming support that exists for issuing work permits to undocumented workers.

“With the current labor shortage in our state and the rising anti-immigrant rhetoric our communities are facing, providing undocumented workers with authorization to work and protection from deportation cannot wait any longer. The time is now to grant work permits for all.”