By Bianca Petcu

In January 2017, the Illinois State Senate started hearings on Bill SB0031, otherwise known as the “Trust Act.”[1]  The Trust Act would prohibit state and local police in Illinois from arresting or detaining a person solely because of their immigration status, or based on a federal immigration detainer.[2]  By June, both the Illinois State Senate and House of Representatives voted to pass the bill and send it to the governor’s desk.[3]  With tensions about “sanctuary cities” rising after the new administration took office, the Illinois General Assembly sent a strong message to their governor: immigrants help our businesses and the economy will suffer without them.[4]

For the bill to pass, Republican Governor, Governor Rauner, would need to sign off on a bill with full Democratic support.  Therefore, by supporting the “Trust Act” in Illinois the Governor would be taking a different stance than his own party.[5]  The bipartisan signing of this bill would show the immigrant community, business community, and law enforcement community, that this issue should not be a political issue – but a humanitarian one.[6]

The Trust Act affects business law and the business law community –a letter written and signed by local law enforcement to the governor makes the direct connection to businesses in the local community that could be affected if the law is not passed.[7]  Immigration, both illegal and legal, directly correlate to job creation and the economy.  The Trust Act’s affiliate website supports this fact by providing statistics on the correlations: “Immigration enforcement also disrupts our economy.  Undocumented immigrants, who make up 4% of our state’s population, represent 7.8% of all Illinois entrepreneurs.  The undocumented earned $7.8 billion in 2014, and paid $916 million in federal, state, and local taxes.  Deporting these immigrants would severely damage many sectors of our state’s economy, such as manufacturing, hospitality, and construction.”[8]  This further demonstrates the connection between immigration laws affecting local businesses.

Governor Rauner will officially sign the Trust Act into law on Monday, August 28th[9], taking a stance for his state and the immigrant community in Illinois that may not be popular with his own political base, but the Governor has the potential to send a message to other states dealing with similar immigration discussions. The impact a bipartisan bill on immigration and business will have on the state of Illinois in the future, and potential economic changes the state sees because of the Trust Act, should be influential on other states to do the same.  Enacting the Trust Act into law seems to lead to business owners and employees working more efficiently and creating more revenue because the ever-present fear of being deported can take a back seat for a while.[10]  The natural connection between immigration issues and business issues needs to be stressed more and made more visible in all states around the United States; by creating this connection state governments may find bipartisan solutions easier to agree on.


[1] S.B. 0031, 100th Gen. Assemb. (Ill. 2017), (“It is the intent of the General Assembly that Act shall not be construed as providing, expanding, or ratifying the legal authority for any State or local law enforcement agency to detain an individual on an immigration detainer or administrative warrant or perform any other civil immigration enforcement function”).

[2] See Robert Reed, Business pushes Rauner to sign bill to protect immigrants, Chi. Trib. (June 15, 2017), (outlining the core purpose of The Trust Act).

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] See Monique Garcia and Kim Geiger, Rauner facing pressure from Downstate Republicans to veto ‘very reasonable’ immigration bill, Chi. Trib. (Aug. 18, 2017), (stating the governor has encountered opposition lobbying from the Republican Party); Brooke Sigman, GOP Gov. Rauner accused of making Illinois a ‘sanctuary state’ with new law, Fox News (Aug. 28, 2017) (stating this isn’t just the ‘right wing’ that’s angry; there are union members too, loyal union men trying to protect American jobs, and the ‘last thing’ they need to see is a Republican governor making Illinois a sanctuary state).

[6] Editorial Board, Trust Act is the right move for immigrants — and for Illinois, Chi. Trib. (Aug. 22, 2017) (“It will make our communities safer and our economy stronger.”)

[7] Rich Miller, Rauner calls TRUST Act a “very reasonable” bill, won’t commit to signing it, Capitol Fax (Aug. 18, 2017), (highlighting the importance of trust with our immigrant communities and needing everyone in the community, no matter where they were born, to feel comfortable calling on first responders in an emergency, including when they are a victim or witness of crime).


[8] The Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois, trust in Ill. (Feb. 2, 2017),

[9] Sophie Vodvarka, VICTORY: Governor Rauner will sign the Illinois TRUST Act on August 28!, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (Aug. 23, 2017),

[10]Madeline Buckley and Fatima Hussein, Living in fear, Indiana’s undocumented immigrants planning for the worst, USA Today (Mar. 5, 2017) (stating that employers are reporting difficulties with workers uneasy about coming to work. Some businesses who have a large Latino customer base have noticed a drop in sales, in part because many immigrants are avoiding public places, but also because they are saving as much money as possible.)


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