State cuts threaten immigrant services in Illinois

Community groups that work with immigrants in Chicago and throughout Illinois are worried that under the current budget their funding will be slashed and that they may have to cut programs and lay off staffers.

"I have some staff that I can't even tell them they'll be employed after the 1st of July," said Abel Nuñez, associate director of Centro Romero,  a North Side agency that helps Central Americans in Chicago.

Around 62 percent of that agency's annual $1.3 million budget comes from state funding. It goes to fund a variety of programs, including English education, citizenship and domestic violence prevention.

"This limits our capacity as an agency to provide these needed services to the community," Nuñez said. "Where will they turn?"

Centro Romero is just one of dozens of agencies serving immigrants that is facing these cuts but there are many more that provide vital services to the broader Latino community, the African-American community, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless. The list goes on.
All of these social services would be impacted under the current budget.

The state is facing a $12 billion budget deficit and our Gov. Pat Quinn
is calling for an income tax increase. He has said he prefers that to
balancing the budget on the backs of the poor.

The current budget could result in $7 billion in cuts and slash budgets
for human services agencies by 50 percent. Quinn won't sign off on this.

I agree with the governor that we can't make all these drastic cuts in
social services. I'd be willing to pay more in taxes to be sure that
those services are maintained. But there are still areas of waste the
state can cut.

It's up to our governor and the legislators to make sure that the people most in need still have a safety net.


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  • yes, there are plenty,plenty of areas where waste could be cut. But it all seems subjective. What's one man's trash is another's... Problem here politicians are forgetting more and more how much communities sustain the overall growth of America and the little industries we have left.

  • I'm disappointed but not surprised the state could cut social services. At time like these the poor are scapegoats. In the 07 budget year, turned out a fight between then-governor Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan led to almost $500 million in cuts destined for small community organizations that did much of the state's work in reaching out to the poor.

    I wrote about the budget cuts and the state's lackluster effort to reach out to immigrants then for The Chicago Reporter. Seems like little has changed. One of the real problems is the way these organizations are funded. Instead of dedicated contracts, a lot of this money is funneled through member items, which are subject to the whims of state legislators. Let's hope they all consider the ramifications of cutting even deeper into much needed social services.

  • Being a social services employee, I am so pleased to see an interest in how organizations that help the needy are impacted by budget cuts. Most people have no idea just how far a few tax dollars can go and how many people can be helped. When people become desperate to feed their families and are forced to resort to any means necessary to provide, crime rates go up.

    On a daily basis homeless people and those who are down on their luck seek our services. Many are seeking employment assistance, while most have only recently become homeless and jobless due to the poor state of the economy. They represent all races and ages. Even sadder, some are young veterans recently returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Although raising taxes is not always THE solution, it is a temporary answer for human beings who turn to social service agencies in utter despair.

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