State Sen. Daniel Biss releases campaign finance report, supports immigration bill


Daily file photo by Maytham Al-Zayer

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) speaks at a town hall in January. Over the past few days, Biss has ramped up efforts in his gubernatorial campaign.

Robin Opsahl, Reporter

As State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) gears up for the gubernatorial race, over the past few days the candidate has released his first quarter campaign finance reports and backed a bill to support immigrants in Illinois.

Biss and another Democratic candidate, Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), both released their first quarter campaign finances Tuesday in the race against incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner. Pawar’s campaign reported more than $325,000 in contributions, and Biss said he raised more than $310,000 with $1.5 million cash available outside of donations.

Other candidates, including businessman Chris Kennedy and Madison County schools superintendent Bob Daiber, have not yet released their returns, though Kennedy has already put $250,000 toward his own campaign.

Though he only launched his campaign last month, Biss has already taken steps to differentiate himself from his opponents: On Monday, the Illinois senator backed the Trust Act, a state bill to protect immigrants in Illinois.

The act, which will be voted on by a Senate committee Wednesday, would stop state law enforcement agencies from assisting in immigration actions without a warrant. It would also create protected areas for immigrants in state buildings like schools and hospitals.

“I can’t promise you that we can change federal policy right now, but I can promise you we will fight as hard as we can at the state and local level to keep your families safe,” Biss said at a press conference Monday. “The way we keep that promise is passing the Illinois Trust act immediately.”

Other legislation in Illinois and nationwide trying to tackle compliance with federal authorities on immigration policy has sometimes led to conflict with law enforcement, State Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago said.

“This legislation will allow them to avoid distractions such as petitions from immigration enforcement to detain, extend detention or incarcerate individuals who have committed minor violations,” Cullerton said at the press conference. “Law enforcement in Illinois has better and more important things to do.”

After President Donald Trump’s election, many people in the immigrant community were more afraid to approach law enforcement for fear of detainment or deportation, said Zubeda Yasin, an advocate with the Indo-American Center. She said this legislation would help the people most affected by recent national politics.

As a Muslim, Yasin said she has experienced discrimination first hand for wearing a hijab. This bill would help protect fellow Muslims and other minorities, and allow them to better communicate with law enforcement, she said.

“I want us to fight harder for those who are targeted and disappear, undocumented people,” Yasin said at the press conference. “I want you to feel angry about the many families that have already been torn apart.”

Many other states, including Oregon and California, have launched similar bills to allow for non-compliance with federal immigration officials.

Action to make law enforcement accessible for immigrants is needed now more than ever, Biss said, and this bill would help bridge the divide between the communities.

“There is no reason for people to feel threatened to call 911 or to report an act of violence or crime to police,” Biss said at the press conference. “That is not only inhumane, it’s a distraction from the work law enforcement ought to be doing to actually keep us safe.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @robinlopsahl