Sen. Cristina Castro

CHICAGO –State Senator Cristina Castro’s push to allow more Illinois courts to determine whether to give an undocumented child lawful permanent residence was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker today.

House Bill 1553 allows civil courts to determine whether a child with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is eligible to be given lawful permanent residence. Under current law, only juvenile courts in Illinois may make this determination.

“This is about ensuring the safety of some of the most vulnerable people in our state,” said Castro, (D-Elgin). “We have an obligation to protect children regardless of their immigration status, and this law will expedite that process.”

SIJS was created to provide undocumented children who have suffered abuse or neglect with lawful permanent residence in the United States if returning the child to their country of origin is not in their best interest. Because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a broader legal definition of “juvenile courts” than Illinois does, Castro’s law allows civil courts to also make these determinations as originally intended.

House Bill 1553 takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.