There are nearly two million foreign-born individuals living in Illinois, about 14 percent of the total state population. While immigrants from Latin American and the Caribbean region represent the largest percentage of foreign-born residents in Illinois, less than half of immigrants are from Latin American countries. While Illinois is home to the sixth-largest immigrant population in the country, positive public perception and social acceptance of immigration is challenged by fear, hostility and anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric. Only since the 2012 presidential elections has the debate on immigration reform and the need to “fix” a broken system begun to dominate the public domain. Opinions on reform—all passionate—run the gamut; however, it is clear that the U.S. immigration system is broken and in need of urgent repair.
After years of stalled federal action in reforming the current immigration system, local municipalities and states have taken reform into their own hands. While Illinois has adopted progressive, pro-immigrant legislation, marking a welcome change from draconian policy in places like Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia, local efforts continue to address challenges associated with immigrant integration. Issues related to language access, increasing civic engagement, and working with local municipalities and receiving communities to continue to build and strengthen cohesive and strong communities top the list.
The Latino Policy Forum works to ensure that individuals living in the United States are recognized as valuable and contributing members of society with equal access to equity and prosperity, regardless of their country of origin. Read more about our immigration goals and strategies or learn about our Immigration Acuerdo.