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Legislator: Migrants attracted to Illinois’ health care, ‘soft-on-crime’ policies

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(The Center Square) – The Illinois Secretary of State will not provide any facial recognition, search service or photographs from their database to any federal, state or local law enforcement agencies, if a bill advancing in Springfield passes.

Now in the House, Senate Bill 2978 also ensures confidentiality of documents submitted with an application for a driver’s license. Migrants in Illinois can now obtain a four-year license that serves as a valid form of identification. Gov. J.B. Pritzker approved the change last year. Prior to getting a standard license, migrants could get a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License.

State Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, said this attracts migrants to the state and prohibits federal law enforcement from doing their jobs.

“Just like the health care bill is a magnet for illegal immigrants, especially those who might be severely sick … what we’re doing as far as criminal justice, it’s a magnet for illegal immigrants, especially those that might be part of criminal gangs from Venezuela that we know are actively operating in Illinois, in California, in other places,” said Plummer. “They’re operating a lot more here because we’re so soft on crime and this bill is just another example.”

On the Senate floor, state Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said the bill will make it where federal law enforcement cannot obtain information about illegal immigrants who are suspects or highlighted as a person of interest.

Bill sponsor state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said law enforcement can get the data with a court order, judicial warrant or subpoena for individual records.

“It provides that the Secretary of State must disclose those documents and follow federal law,” said Feigenholtz.

Plummer said if the FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE or any other federal agency, regardless of the issue, is just trying to enforce law, the law enforcement in Illinois should work with them.

The bill passed the Senate and in the Illinois House awaiting further action.

Plummer further explained after an initial budget estimate by Pritzker for migrant health care of $550 million, that figure has ballooned to about $770 million. Medicaid plans aren’t as costly as migrant health care plans because the federal government covers 50 cents on the dollar, he said. Those government health care plans are also “set in stone,” but Plummer said the governor and his allies have promised the migrants are a fee-for-service plan.

“These plans are far better than what I get, you get, what the average Illinoisan gets,” said Plummer. “So for every dollar we would spend on Medicaid, these plans that the migrants get cost about $1.75, compared to the dollar for Medicaid. There’s also no federal reimbursement. This is how the program is ballooning. Now everyone is saying this is going to cost a billion dollars, and by the way they’re making moves to expand it further.”

In recent months, tuberculosis and measles has been found at Chicago migrant shelters.

“The longer this plan exists and as generous as this plan is … it’s like a magnet to attract migrants to Illinois, including sick migrants. If you’re a sick migrant you’re heading to Illinois,” Plummer said. “This is going to sink the Illinois taxpayer. We’ve got a billion dollars of increases in the governor’s budget recommendation just to cover the unknown bill that this is going to be for the Illinois taxpayer.”

Pritzker introduced a near $53 billion state budget, which is up from his first $40 billion budget in 2019.

Illinois became the first state to provide Medicaid-like coverage with the Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors and Health Benefits for Immigrant Adult programs.

Immigration advocates say the benefits of providing health coverage extend not only to the individual, but also to their family, community and society at large. The University of Illinois Chicago’s Great Cities Institute’s recent Benefits of Health Coverage for Immigrants in Illinois report said migrants receiving benefits through Illinois’ programs have reported that it is easier to work and look for work after receiving health care coverage.

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