Chesney Files Resolution in Support of Federal Impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary
Immigration reform must take place at the federal level, and we need a Homeland Security Secretary who acknowledges the national crisis and commits to solving it. Last week I filed Senate Resolution 746, which expresses Illinois Senate support of the U.S. House of Representatives’ effort to impeach U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
More than 10 million migrants have crossed into the United States via our southern border with Mexico under his watch. That’s higher than the 2023 state populations of 40 of our 50 states. More than 35,000 of the migrants that have entered through the southern border have made their way to Illinois, and upon their arrival, Illinois becomes responsible for their food, housing, healthcare, and other wraparound services. Every dollar spent on services for migrants is a dollar diverted away from Illinois citizens who require state government assistance. This includes the intellectually and developmentally disabled, veterans, seniors, those living in poverty, and other vulnerable citizen groups. This is a crisis that demands action.
SR 746 points out that the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has reported a significant spike in attempts to smuggle large amounts of fentanyl and illicit fentanyl-containing tablets across the southern border, resulting in higher incidents of fentanyl overdoses and deaths in the United States, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has confirmed nearly 1.8 million “gotaways,” those who have entered the United States illegally and have not been apprehended by customs or border patrol officers, have entered the United States during the same timeframe. The FBI also acknowledged a rising number of individuals on the terrorist watchlist who have crossed the southern border into the United States, and while most have been apprehended, others from the terrorist watchlist remain in this country and pose a serious threat to national security.
Historical data tells us that most individuals entering our country claiming to be asylum seekers will not be granted asylum and therefore will not be granted lawful, permanent status in our country. That keeps the door wide open on the demand for human services budget dollars that are rightly earmarked for veterans, disabled people, low-income Illinoisans, seniors, and other vulnerable citizen groups.
Governor Finally Allows Co-Pays for Illegal Immigrant Healthcare
In the early summer of 2023, under pressure from the Illinois Legislature, Governor JB Pritzker promised to implement mandatory co-pays for illegal immigrants receiving otherwise free healthcare in Illinois. However, his Administration quickly put the plan on hold, allowing undocumented noncitizens enrolled in the program to continue to receive top-tier, free healthcare.
Now, more than three years after launching the program, and approximately eight months after first promising the co-pay requirement, the Pritzker Administration is finally moving forward on the plan, albeit with a major catch. The co-pays aren’t actually required, and providers may choose not to implement them.
The co-pays had first been proposed as part of an effort to rein in the costs of the taxpayer-funded program that were estimated to rise to well over a billion dollars per year. Now, after the months-long pause and little transparency, it will be hard to tell how much will actually be saved.
I believe Illinois taxpayers should not be paying for nearly free healthcare for illegal immigrants that is far cheaper than what many Illinois working families can afford. The costs are likely to rise further due to the increased influx of migrants arriving in Chicago. As the majority of asylum seekers are expected to likely be denied asylum (historically the number of those having their asylum designation denied is as high as 80%), their numbers will likely add to the growing number of illegal immigrants receiving benefits.
Senator Chesney’s “Valentines for Seniors” Card Drive in its Final Days
Only a few more days are left to participate in my 2024 Valentines for Seniors program. Just look at these creative rose-folded valentines that two constituents who are new to the area dropped off at my office! They will bring a great deal of joy to the seniors who receive them.
We would like to collect more valentines before the deadline. Please feel free to drop off valentines, poems, drawings, and other well-wishes for this year’s program between now and Friday, February 9 at my Freeport office. Items collected will be distributed to local nursing homes, assisted living centers, and long-term care facilities in the 45th District.
The office is open between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM., Monday through Friday, and is located at 50 W. Douglas Street, Suite 1001, Freeport, IL, 60132.
For additional information about this outreach program, please email Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call my office at (815) 232-0774.
These special deliveries will put smiles on seniors’ faces, so I hope you’ll participate.
45th District Parks and Recreation Projects Receive OSLAD Grants
I am pleased to report that close to $2.3 million in Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grants are coming to communities in the 45th District. My office has had a hand in securing OSLAD grants from the state. We have written and will continue to write, letters of support to help channel state funds to projects across the 45th District.
Established by the Illinois General Assembly in 1986, OSLAD is a cost-sharing program between state and local governments that helps communities fund land acquisition and development for parks and outdoor recreation projects. For the current fiscal year, cities, villages, park districts, and forest preserve districts had an opportunity to apply for the grants over the last several months.
Communities in the 45th Senate District that received grants include:
- Ogle County
- Oregon Park District: $600,000
- Village of Mount Morris: $152,600
- Winnebago County
- Rockford Park District: $600,000
- Village of Roscoe: $531,400
- Winnebago County Forest Preserve: $389,900
The 45th District is home to some of the most beautiful and family-friendly parks in the state, so I was thrilled to learn that these OSLAD grant funds are coming to communities in my district. funds will help make great park systems even better.
Chesney Meets with Jo Daviess County Leaders
I recently had an opportunity to meet with the Legislative Committee of the Jo Daviess County Board. I provided a short update on what to expect in the spring session, and the committee shared their legislative thoughts and concerns going into this new year.
It is a privilege to serve as the legislative voice in Springfield for Jo Daviess County. I really enjoy these gatherings and the conversations we have about local issues of interest. I appreciate the invitation and look forward to many more meetings.
Newly Filed Legislation Would Ban Hostile Foreign Entities from Buying Farmland
A new bill introduced by Illinois Senate Republicans aims to prevent potentially hostile entities of the United States from buying up farmland for potentially nefarious purposes. I am a proud co-sponsor of the bill.
Senate Bill 2668 seeks to address the dangers of Illinois land being sold to individuals and organizations from hostile foreign powers. This would prohibit purchases of land from countries categorized as hostile by the federal government. This bill is designed to help maintain national security while reducing the inflation of farmland prices by foreign actors.
According to the Department of Agriculture, foreign-owned farmland grew by 8 percent in 2022. Twenty-four states have similar legislation prohibiting or restricting farmland purchases by certain foreign parties. This bill would include fines up to $15,000 and punishment of up to two years prison time for violations. This bill mandates that the Illinois Department of Agriculture creates an office of Agricultural Intelligence to monitor suspicious agricultural land purchases.
Senator Chesney Tours Machesney Park Manufacturing Facility
One of the great perks of my job is that I get to visit and tour several of the local businesses that help drive the Illinois economy. I recently traveled to the Hennig facility in Machesney Park for a facility tour and a nice conversation with Chairman & CEO Dietmar Goeller.
Hennig provides a lot of well-paying jobs in Machesney Park and across the globe. They specialize in enhancing the safety and efficiency of workplace machinery.
Illinois Once Again Led the Nation in Soybean Production
Last year, Illinois farmers raised almost 649 million bushels of soybeans, a slight decrease from the previous year, making Illinois the top soybean-producing state. However, the state fell to second in corn production last year, losing to the nearby state of Iowa.
The 43,000 soybean farmers in the state averaged 63 bushels per acre. These Illinoisans persevered through extremes like dry spells, and heavy rains to maintain the soybean production crown.