SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Following Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signing of an executive order Thursday to help protect immigrants and refugees in Illinois, state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, chair of the Illinois House Veterans Affairs Committee, announced her intention to create a legislative subcommittee to review ways in which to best serve the needs of immigrant and minority Veterans.
“Instead of receiving sufficient support, there are Veterans feeling isolated and abandoned by the country they risked their life to serve,” said Kifowit. “We need to look at ways to improve access to services for Veterans across the board while taking into account the unique identities of those who are underrepresented in the Veteran community.”
Kifowit will establish a subcommittee within the Veterans Affairs Committee to identify ways to address the unique needs of immigrant and minority Veterans, including access to mental health, housing and employment assistance, and a path to citizenship for undocumented Veterans who have served. Federal law does not protect immigrant Veterans from deportation, and according to a report from the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), a nonpartisan legal advocacy group, an estimated 3,000 Veterans have been deported over the last few years.
State Sen. Cristina Castro, chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will create a similar subcommittee in the General Assembly’s other chamber.
“Veterans of the United States military are reflective of the diversity of our nation and our communities,” said Castro. “Though many may experience different challenges, in the General Assembly we have a duty to ensure that all Veterans’ voices are heard. They have earned that right.”
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