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Illinois State Immigration Laws

Welcome to FindLaw's coverage of existing Illinois rules related to immigration status. This article gives an overview of the immigration laws in the state. Immigration laws can see changes and updates over time at the state and federal law levels. If you are a nonimmigrant or noncitizen processing your immigration status, stay informed.

The article covers the following topics:

Law Enforcement and Immigration in Illinois

In general, federal law means that federal immigration authorities deal with immigration law enforcement. But, local law enforcement officials are working with the federal government in handling these cases.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) components manage enforcement of immigration laws.

For instance, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has the 287(g) Program. This program authorized local law enforcement authorities to perform certain immigration functions within their jurisdictions. ICE works with local and state police. Together, they identify jailed non-U.S. citizens and work on the assessment of their removal or deportation.

The U.S. Government also implements programs to check jailed non-U.S. citizens. For instance, "Secure Communities" (E.O. 13768) began in 2017. President Joe Biden revoked the program in January 2021 by executive order.

Secure Communities aimed to share data between the DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI shared fingerprints and other data about people arrested by the DHS. The DHS would then verify the immigration status of the arrested person. If it appeared that the person arrested lived here illegally, ICE would take the necessary actions.

The U.S. government has other programs, like the Criminal Apprehension Program (CAP) under ICE, to address immigration enforcement. This immigration service brings non-U.S. Citizens with criminal records into custody.

Employment Checks

Employers should refer to federal employment eligibility verification rules and the requirements for Form I-9.

In Chicago and other parts of Illinois, businesses should seek the help of an immigration attorney to ensure they follow these laws.

Illinois E-Verify Requirements

Illinois is one of the few states with stringent protection of workers' privacy. But, many states encourage using the E-Verify system to confirm applicants' and new hires' eligibility to work in the country. The Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act has procedures meant to protect workers' privacy and prevent discrimination.

Driver's License/ID Requirements

Illinois requires first-time applicants for driver's licenses to show documents that prove their identity. Some identification may include a Social Security card, address, and proof of residency. Illinois' Secretary of State offers a complete list of requirements for a driver's license. This list also comes with acceptable documents of identification.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Immigrants living here without documentation are generally ineligible for most public benefits. But they may get services that are "necessary to protect life and safety." This includes health care, emergency services, and other similar services.

The federal and local government encourages the immigrant population to get immigration status. This enables them to use certain government benefits and enjoy immigrant rights.

Education Restrictions

Illinois is one of many states that have laws allowing in-state tuition benefits. Qualified students are eligible to access these education benefits.

The U.S. government also has the Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow bill (ASSET). With ASSET, even students with unlawful immigration status may pay in-state tuition. They only need to meet certain requirements to be eligible for this benefit.

The ASSET bill was a big win for immigrants who would like to get an education. This mainly benefits recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Voter ID Rules

The state of Illinois doesn't need its voters to present identification cards at the polls. But poll workers may ask them to verify their signatures.

First-time voters who registered by mail and did not submit identification may need to show a form of identification. The following are some of the acceptable forms:

  • Paycheck
  • Lease contract
  • Student ID and mail addressed to the voter's home
  • Government check
  • Government document
  • Bank statement
  • Utility bill
  • A valid photo ID

These acceptable forms of ID should show the name and address of the first-time voter.

Housing Ordinances and Immigration

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Illinois State Immigration Laws: Related Resources

If you want to research more, click the links below to learn more.

There are also nonprofit organizations that offer referrals to immigration services. You can find their contact information in the links below.

  • National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) — The NIJC is in Chicago. It provides legal services and advocates for refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers.
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) — This coalition promotes the rights of refugees and immigrants. It also advocates for providing education to immigrants and implementing immigrant-friendly policies.
  • World Relief Chicago — This is an organization in the state of Illinois that provides a wide range of legal services. Included are refugee resettlement, immigration legal services, and English language classes.

Are You an Immigrant Living in Illinois? Learn More About Your Rights from a Lawyer

Understanding the complexities of immigration law can be challenging for most. There are immigration lawyers in Chicago and other parts of Illinois who can help people in immigrant communities get U visas or other types of immigration law issues. With their expertise, they can give you a better understanding of your rights and offer legal advice depending on your case. Seeking legal services is particularly crucial for victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.

FindLaw offers a wide range of articles about immigration and other areas of law. It always helps to know your rights.

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