Sen. Cristina Castro 2-7-18

Illinois state Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, questions officials from the state's Public Health and Veterans Affairs departments in a hearing Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.

Illinois lawmakers are debating restrictions on whether a landlord can report a tenant who is living in the country illegally to authorities.

State Sen. Christina Castro’s legislation was vetoed last year by Gov. Bruce Rauner. In his veto message, Rauner said the bill would violate U.S. laws about blocking federal agencies.

If passed into law, Castro’s bill would allow a tenant to sue the landlord for up to $2,000 in civil court.

She said the aim of the bill was to give immigrants a shield from discrimination.

“This bill is to allow our immigrant communities to feel safe and not retaliated against based on what their immigration status is,” she said.

Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said the bill entirely blocks landlords from reporting illegal immigrants to the authorities.

“You are telling your landlords ‘no, you can’t say a word to anyone in law enforcement about that individual,'” he said. “Is there any other area that you can think of in state policy where you would so tie a landlord’s hands?”

The bill now awaits House consideration.

California has a law that prohibits landlords from asking tenants about their immigration status. There’s an effort in Washington D.C. to charge a landlord guilty of reporting a tenant to immigration with felony extortion.

Staff Writer

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for Illinois News Network and Watchdog.org. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.