SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a measure Friday that would encourage immigrants' cooperation with police investigations by offering protection from deportation, one of three immigrant-related bills the Republican nixed in a week of rising tensions over national policy because of the death of an Iowa college student, allegedly at the hands of an immigrant.
Rauner rejected the plan to push police into speedier approval of protective visas . He said its "aggressive timeline" was too burdensome and carries penalties that are too harsh.
Immigrants who face deportation if discovered are eligible for the visas allowing them to seek federal protection if they are victims of specified crimes and cooperate with criminal investigations. But immigrants' advocates say police often ignore the requests for help.
"This is a slap in the face to crime victims who happen to be immigrants," the bill's sponsor, Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, said in a statement. "The whole idea was to foster trust between police and immigrant communities."
It was one of three immigrant-related pieces of legislation to meet with a veto In a week of increasing attention on immigration. A man suspected of being in the U.S. illegally, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, was charged in the abduction and stabbing death of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa. It's prompted President Donald Trump to rail against the nation's immigration system.
Rauner said police don't have the resources to verify crime-victim claims and face significant backlash if they err.
"Requiring certification within a tight timeline, but also subjecting law enforcement to perjury if a mistake is made, is an unacceptably risky position to put law enforcement in," Rauner said.
Rauner approved two immigrant-related measures, including Cullerton's legislation to bar the state from spending money on or sharing demographic information with any agency creating a registry based on religion, national origin, disability, or other categorical characterizations. Trump inspired that idea when he suggested as a candidate in 2016 that Muslims should register with the government. He has backed off the idea.
Rauner also signed a law to allow professional licenses to be awarded regardless of immigrant or citizenship status. That makes it easier for those in the country legally because they were brought here as youngsters under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals rule to get licenses they've earned to be a pharmacist or barber.
But Rauner turned thumbs down on two other proposals. One would make "safe zones" of public buildings such as schools, state-funded health centers, courts and libraries off limits to immigration-law enforcement. And he nixed a proposal to bar landlords from evicting or reporting tenants based on immigration status.
"The governor is trying to score political points during a week when anti-immigrant rhetoric is high," said Sen. Iris Martinez, a Chicago Democrat who co-sponsored the tenant bill, but also sponsored the professional licenses plan. "It's a shame that he cares more about appealing to certain voters than really reading this legislation and understanding that it is beneficial to the many immigrants living in our state."
Rauner said in veto messages that the proposals would violate federal law prohibting anyone from refusing to disclose to the government information about any person's citizenship or immigration status.
"Illinois continues to be a welcoming state for all and continuously strives to protect the rights of all residents," Rauner said. "However, we must comply (with) federal law."