Survey shows 22 organizations would close by October

August 27, 2010

Immigrant Organizations in Crisis Plan Service Strike

Survey shows 22 organizations would close by October

ICIRR responds to attacks on immigrants with voter mobilization


Chicago, Illinois: Twenty-two immigrant organizations in the Latino, Asian, South Asian, Muslim, Arab, Polish, and African communities of Illinois face bankruptcy by the end of October if the State of Illinois does not pay its bills, a survey released by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) today showed. The immigrant service organizations announced a possible service strike on September 21 if payments -- for work performed before June 30, the end of FY10 -- are not made by the State of Illinois before September 20.

The State of Illinois is more than $500 million behind in paying its bills, but a survey of 42 immigrant organizations by ICIRR shows that these organizations lack the reserves, lines of credit, endowments, and large individual donors to weather the storm. The survey shows that the 42 organizations would lay off 280 staff; 22 of these organizations would close their doors by the end of October.

Some of the organizations attending the press conference have not received payments for work completed eight months ago. They have continued offering services to their communities, often using lines of credit. Many of these organizations are now at risk of closing programs, laying off staff, and even going bankrupt and closing their doors. "Our organization provides 7% of the domestic violence support services in the State, and we have gone beyond our monetary limits to assure that our communities are being served," said Maria Pesqueira, president and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Acción and board vice-president of ICIRR "We need to pay our staff, utilities, and rent. We can't let this to continue."

The ICIRR survey showed that the State of Illinois owes $7.2 million to 42 immigrant serving community organizations for services they performed under State contracts during state fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30.  The State relies on these organizations to provide a range of services to vulnerable immigrant populations, including English classes, child care, youth programming, domestic violence counseling, mental health services, and programs for the elderly and homeless.  "These immigrant service organizations are the heart and lifeline for the immigrant communities of Illinois. But they are not like hospitals, doctors, or universities and they cannot subsidize the State of Illinois," said Joshua Hoyt, ICIRR Executive Director. "Illinois just passed a law against wage theft by private employers - but if the State will not pay its service providers for work done, is this not the same thing?"

Participants thanked Michelle Saddler, Governor Quinn's new chief of staff, for focusing on this crisis. The State has asked that some initial payments be expedited.  "We thank Chief of Staff Saddler for her diligent work," said Alie Kabba, executive director of the United African Organization and new ICIRR board president. "Unfortunately, this crisis is real, and our organizations must be paid in full for the work they have done to prevent the mass destruction of the organizations that help immigrants to succeed in America."

"We haven't been paid since March; we have laid off half of our staff and we are looking at the possibility of closing our doors," said Nareman Taha, co-founder of Arab American Family Services.

James a talked about the effects of cuts to the state-funded homemaker program run by Polish American Association on his father, an 82-year-old immigrant from Poland.  "My father needs the assistance of the homemakers program which provides help with household tasks and personal care that I cannot provide for him on a daily basis," James said. "If the program ends, it will endanger my father, who lives alone."

As an immediate response to this critical budget issue and to the unrelenting attacks on the immigrant community, ICIRR and its member organizations are mobilizing immigrants to vote. As part of this non-partisan New Americans Democracy Project (NADP), ICIRR will conduct a training for volunteers on Saturday, August 28, at DePaul University - Lincoln Park Campus Schmitt Academic Center (2320 N. Kenmore Ave.) from 10am to 4pm.


The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of 130 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. For more information, visit