Human Rights for Undocumented Immigrants

On October 10, 2018, the Trump administration officially published, for comment the “public charge” rule that would fundamentally change our country's immigration practice. This rule defines who might be considered a "public charge," a person relying on government programs for subsistence. An immigrant who is a "public charge" has a poor chance of achieving green card status.

The new rule will widen the criteria applied when determining a person a public charge to include enrollment in Medicaid healthcare, receiving SNAP food assistance, and participating in a housing voucher program. Participating in these programs would disqualify a family from being considered for immigration.

The proposed rule would punish immigrants going through official immigration processes for receiving benefits for which they are legally eligible.

Here is the proposed rule:

When the government publishes a proposed regulation, the public gets 60 days to comment. That period formally started on Wednesday, October 10 and ends on Monday, December 10, 2018. The government is obligated to review those comments before finalizing the rule, though it’s not necessarily obligated to make any changes.

Submit a comment OPPOSING this change. The language you use might include values such as: that families shouldn’t have to choose between basic human rights and staying together, that human compassion requires that all our people be able to thrive and we all benefit when all members of our communities have enough to eat, access to health care, and safe housing.

Here is how to submit a comment:

Go to

Put the Docket number in the SEARCH box: USCIS-2010-0012


Type in your comment


Follow the prompt to SUBMIT

Your voice counts! Your comment will be read and your opposition vote will be counted. THANK YOU!

Partnering with American Friends Service Committee

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Vote your UU Values

Now that you have pledged with your UU community to vote your UU values (you did, didn’t you? LINK), find out which candidates on your ballot are pledged to realize your UU values in their work. The Illinois League of Women Voters has put together a guide to the candidates HERE to help you put together your own ballot choices. The LWV has surveyed candidate stands on a myriad of issues, but makes no endorsements. That’s your job.

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Protest EPA Roll-back of Emission Control of Coal-powered Plants

Under direction from the current Administration, the EPA is now proposing the Repeal of Carbon Dioxide Emission Guidelines for Existing Standing Sources, or the new “Affordable Clean Energy Rule,” rolling back pollution regulations on coal powered plants by replacing the hard-won Clean Power Plan of 2015.

The EPA held a public hearing Monday in Chicago, attended by hundreds of people in protest and involving our partners at Faith in Place and the Illinois Climate Table. YOU CAN HAVE YOUR SAY NOW!

Your voice is critical as one by one we strengthen the resistance. You can submit an official comment to the EPA HERE. You needn’t be fancy — they are counting the number of protesting citizens and this is your time to be counted: “Say NO to the Affordable Clean Energy Rule that undermines our strongest effort yet to protect the health of our communities.”

As people of faith leading the environmental movement toward justice, we must speak out for the right of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.

Your comment will be emailed to the EPA Docket and will be published in the EPA’s website as part of the public comment process.

TAKE ACTION and let your voice be counted!

In partnership with Faith in Place, the Illinois Climate Table and Interfaith Power and Light.

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Not one penny more for family separation, “zero tolerance” prosecutions, detention and deportation.

After thousands of people rose up this summer against separating families and criminalizing immigrants, the White House and ICE are now trying to pump even more money into detaining, deporting, and prosecuting our friends and loved ones.

As Congress debates plans to fund the government for Fiscal Year 2019, the Trump administration is asking for billions of dollars in new funding for ICE, Border Patrol, and the Department of Justice—the same agencies that carried out the family separation policy. Any new money for the agencies that detain, deport, and prosecute immigrants will mean more parents being taken from their children and more people torn from our communities.

Love Resists, a joint campaign of the UUA and UUSC, and Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) are joining the Interfaith Week of Action for Immigrant Rights, led by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC). We have a simple message for Congress:

Not one penny more for family separation, “zero tolerance” prosecutions, detention and deportation.

TAKE ACTION to urge your congresspeople to reject budget proposals that increase subsidies for these violations of fundamental human rights.

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Urge our young people to vote -- EACH ONE REACH ONE!

Our most valuable resource this election season is our young people. Many of our 18+ folks could vote for the first time this November and we need their participation to shake things up in Springfield and in Congress.

Reach out to the young people in your life — if each UU reaches out to one or two young people, we can bring UU values to bear even more strongly in our choice of new legislators -- and support for allied legislators -- in November.

It's never been so easy: register online HERE.

And while you're at it, nudge your young people to connect with YAYA (Youth And Young Adults)/UUANI by emailing coordinator Elise Miedlar HERE.

Stay woke, people!

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Pledge to Vote this fall!

We have struggled with our legislators this spring —we’ve seen some victories, but also much frustration. These fall elections are going to be crucial in changing the dynamic in Springfield and in Washington. Take some steps NOW to make a difference in November!

Affirm and promote our 5th UU principle by taking the UUANI/Poor People’s Campaign Voting our Values pledge HERE — a first step to promoting voter registration in and through your UU congregation this month.

We’d like to get 100% participation of UUs, so forward this action to fellow UUs.

Gather a team in your congregation for a Get Out The Vote campaign in your congregation and in your neighborhood. Find out what other congregations are doing by tuning in to a UUANI webinar TOMORROW EVENING September 5 at 7:30. Details and register HERE.

Check HERE to see that you yourself are registered and register online HERE.

You have really stepped up this spring letting your legislators know you are watching them.

Thank you!

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A Springfield Scorecard for 2018

Our UUANI campaigns of Spring 2018 yielded some sweet victories and some disappointment.

We joined our efforts with UU Prison Ministry of Illinois and Community Renewal Society of Chicago to support legislation that promoted restorative justice.   Two bills passed both houses and were signed into law by Governor Rauner:
    •    SB3388 Adult Redeploy Act expands the availability to probation-eligible people of support services such as counseling, life coaching, problem-solving courts, and other restorative justice processes. 
    •    HB5341  "Fair Access to Employment (F.A.T.E.)" provides that outstanding fees, fines, and court costs cannot stand in the way of determining whether someone can have their criminal record sealed. 

And one bill was passed by both houses, but vetoed (amendatory) by Governor Rauner:
    •    HB4469  "Know your rights" affirms access to voting rights for pre-trial and post-incarceration people.   The Governor objected to being the first state to install voting booths in jails. 

We joined our efforts with  the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to support legislation promoting the safety and welfare of undocumented people. 
We won:
•    SB3488  Anti-registry Act -- Provides that agencies may not create registry lists based on discriminatory characteristics such as national origin, religion, disability, race, color, gender identity, immigration status. 
•  SB3109 Professional licensing may be awarded regardless of immigrant or citizenship status

 We lost:
    •    SB35:  Immigration Safe Zones -- Provides that public buildings and agencies funded by state taxes be declared areas safe for all people regardless of immigration status.  
    •    SB34 Voices Act -- Requires law enforcement to provide visas to qualifying individuals who are survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking or other criminal activity without requiring them to jeopardize their safety as undocumented people.    
    •    SB3103 Immigrant tenant protection. Tenants rights for undocumented people.
In these bills, Governor Rauner felt that the legislation violated federal law by attempting to supercede it. 

One victory, and one on hold.
    •    HB2354 "Red flag" Firearms Restraining Order -- Allows a citizen to register a lethal restraining order mandating that a citizen demonstrating real and present danger to a community be denied purchase or ownership of firearms. 

 •    SB337 Gun Dealer Licensing, now Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking, Passed both houses, but is being held away from the Governor's desk.

We got no traction for environment protection bills, but the chances may change with the results of the November elections.

NEXT STEP: Voter engagement. Promote voter registration and get out the vote!

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Urge Governor Rauner to sign HB4469

Governor Rauner is poised to decide this next week whether to sign into law HB4469, extending an opportunity for voting to people being held in jail and connecting folks coming out of incarceration to their restored voting rights. Our voting rights are so much a part of who we are as citizens in Illinois. In HB4469, we have the opportunity to help folks in the criminal justice system connect with their legal rights.

All over Illinois this week, organizations are joining forces to persuade Governor Rauner to do the right thing. Let's join our UU voices to that effort! TAKE ACTION to urge Governor Rauner to sign HB469 Voting Rights in Jail!

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Urge Governor Rauner to support gun dealer licensing

In the wake of a weekend (and continuing!) of unprecedented gun violence in Chicago, we ask Governor Rauner to heed the will of his constituency in the General Assembly and SIGN SB337, The Combatting Illegal Gun Trafficking Act.

SB337 encourages better business practices among gun dealers and defeats corrupt gun dealers. Other states that have adopted similar requirements have seen the incidence of gun crimes reduced by more than half.

Recognizing the deleterious effect of illegal gun trafficking in our communities, legislators of both houses of the General Assembly have passed the bill this spring with bipartisan support. We know Chicago does not represent the prevalence of gun violence for the entire state of Illinois, but all our sizable cities have seen an uptick in gun violence. The citizens of all our urban communities need the protection of this bill.

TAKE ACTION to urge Governor Rauner to sign SB337 NOW!

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Governor Rauner, your signature, please!

UUANI and our partners worked very hard this spring to persuade legislators to pass several suites of bills to protect the people of Illinois — A significant number of those bills were passed by both houses and now await the signature of our governor. Passed by a majority of our legislators, they represent the voice of the people of Illinois — and yet they have not been signed into law. Governor Rauner has 60 days from passage in the legislature (end of May) to sign and HIS TIME IS RUNNING OUT. No signature amounts to a veto. Demand that Governor Rauner heed the will of the people and sign these bills:

Supporting restorative justice — HB4469 “Know your rights” affirms access to voting rights for people in jail and after incarceration; HB5341 Fair Access to Employment provides that outstanding fees and fines cannot stand in the way of sealing records in order to gain employment; SB3388 “Adult Redeploy” extends support services to a wider range of post-incarceration people.

Supporting immigrant and refugee rights — SB35 Immigration Safe Zones designates public buildings as areas off-limits to unwarranted arrest and harassment for all people; SB34 the VOICES Act requires law enforcement to provide visas to qualified individuals without requiring them to jeopardize their safety as undocumented individuals; SB3488 the Anti-registry Act forbids agencies to create registry lists based on discriminatory characteristics such as national origin, religion, race, gender identity and immigration status.

Gun Safety — Governor Rauner just signed into law HB2354 the “Red Flag Firearms Restraining Order,” allowing a citizen to register a restraining order against the purchase or ownership of a gun for a person demonstrating real and present danger to a community; but not SB337 Combatting Illegal Gun Trafficking (formerly Gun Dealer Licensing).

If any of these issues resonate with you, TAKE ACTION and send a letter to Governor Rauner TODAY. Apparently, he still needs to hear the voice of the people! Use the bill number(s) in your letter subject and your best voice of outrage in your letter, with perhaps a hint that you have a vote to cast in the fall election.

Let our elected officials know we are watching them!

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