The Democrat-controlled Illinois House approved protections for illegal immigrants, made voter registration automatic for state residents, and passed more severe punishments for gun crimes, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Senate President and Democrat John Cullerton, who supported the immigration bill in the Senate, said it will “provide stability” for Illinois’ estimated half-million illegal immigrants by preventing state and local law enforcement from arresting them. Democratic legislators admit the measure is a direct response to President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown, which they say has caused Illinois communities to “live in fear.”
The voter registration bill would require all Illinoisans who visit virtually any state-run agency, from the secretary of state’s office to the DMV, to “opt out” of being automatically registered to vote. This is the second version of the bill to reach Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. He vetoed an earlier iteration in 2016, saying it would encourage voter fraud. In Illinois, illegal Immigrants can obtain a temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License (TVDL), which, combined with the automatic registration law, creates potential for illegal voting.
“The law just automatically registers people who have any interaction with state government in our various departments,” Rauner told reporters before he vetoed the first bill in August.
“But not everyone who interacts with our government or receives benefits is a a citizen.”
The only difference between the new bill and the one Rauner vetoed is that citizens can now choose to “opt out” of automatically registering.
The gun bill, also approved Tuesday, mandates more severe sentences for people “caught with guns” for a second time. It does not, however, affect first time offenders, a representative told FOX 32 News.
The sentencing reform was passed over objections from the black caucus, which argued the bill would do virtually nothing to bring down violent crime. Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, however, argued it could lower gun violence by as much as 50 percent within the year.
The House approved all three bills under cover of an ongoing budget battle with the the governor. Illinois lawmakers are supposed to complete the budget and adjourn for the summer Wednesday, but some speculate Democrats will push past the deadline to put pressure on Republicans both in the Senate and Governor’s office.
With Rauner holding a budget veto and Democrats having only 67 of the 71 votes required to overturn a veto, Democrats need some form of Republican cooperation to pass their budget. Democrat Rep. Greg Harris said in reference to the deadline that Democrats will “cross that bridge when we come to it,” but with the deadline on Wednesday and no agreement in sight, running over time seems almost inevitable.
Illinois has gone without a complete budget since July 2015, when Rauner and Democrats began their stalemate. Rauner has said he won’t pass any budget without a property tax freeze, which the current Democrat budget does not contain.