Rep. Keicher joins Immigrant Impact Task Force, vows to create ‘avenues for success’ for Illinois immigrants

State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, speaks as Sycamore Police Department detective Ryan Hooper looks on Friday, May 13, 2022, during the DeKalb County Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial Service on the lawn of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore.

SYCAMORE – State Rep. Keicher, R-Sycamore, was recently appointed to the Immigrant Impact Task Force by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, and said he wants to create “avenues to success” for immigrants in Illinois.

Created through the passage of last year’s Senate Bill 2665, the task force is an effort to review, assess, and recommend a vision for the future of immigrant, refugee, and limited english proficiency communities in Illinois. Keicher was appointed Aug. 19.

“Throughout our state’s history, immigration has enriched our communities and had an immeasurably positive impact on Illinois,” Keicher said. “As a newly appointed member of this task force, my goal is to make sure there are avenues to success for present-day immigrants in Illinois.”

According to the text of the bill, the task force is composed of 27 members, including five spots for five representatives from organizations offering aid or services to immigrants, appointed by Gov. JB Pritzker. The group is charged with examining what Illinois is doing to proactively help immigrants, how the state can improve relations between immigrant communities and state and local governments and analyze whether adequate resources have been provided to immigrant communities in rural, suburban and urban areas.

“My own heritage includes ancestors who emigrated from Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland and Great Britain,” Keicher said. “The work they found in their community helped our family establish a sense of belonging and home here in Illinois.”

Keicher, who has served as the ranking Republican spokesperson on immigration and human rights in the state House of Representatives, was given his spot on the task force from the one appointment allocated for nomination by the House Minority Leader.

Keicher represents the 70th House District, which currently includes parts of Boone, DeKalb and Kane counties and following redistricting, will also include McHenry County.

“When I look back,” Keicher said, “my family’s legacy of being an immigrant family to this area from almost all sides of the family, and the chance that we got – I want to make sure that families that are relocating to Illinois have that same opportunity.”

The task force also examines how communities are discriminated against, if laws designed to bolster immigrant communities have the desired effect, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and whether language access programs are effectively helping immigrant communities learn to communicate. The group also will consider the practices and procedures of the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency within Illinois.

Keicher said the task force will look at all aspects of life for an immigrant living in Illinois.

“Basically, making sure that we go through step by step, in the day of the life of an immigrant family and the different obstacles that they may run into,” Keicher said. “And that’s from health care and human services, enrollment in school, finding a job, finding a home. Making sure that we know as they go through those steps what blockages may be in the way and do what we can to help make that an easier transition to their life here in Illinois.”

Once its analysis has concluded, the task force will report its findings to the governor and the General Assembly and make recommendation for policy changes.

As the bill is written, the task force was expected to make recommendations by the end of May earlier this year, however that hasn’t gone as planned.

“As I understand it, there will be a resolution that will be passed that’ll push out the date, and we see that frequently,” Keicher said.

Keicher said the dates on the bill was a bit aggressive but he’s been told the task force will have a full year for the group’s report to be written, eyeing December 2023 as a date for the task force to conclude its findings.

Since joining the task force, Keicher said he’s taken a positive stance on immigration.

“Today our state must be prepared to welcome immigrants and refugees from parts of the world experiencing turmoil, extreme poverty or war, including Ukraine, Venezuela, the Korean peninsula, our Afghanistan allies, to name just a few,” Keicher said.