Righter speaks out against bill forbidding landlords from reporting illegal tenants
Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) spoke in opposition of a bill that prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants if they discover they are in the country illegally.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). Senate Bill 1290 creates the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, which spells out that landlords cannot threaten to disclose or actually disclose information relating to the immigration status of a tenant to any person, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the intent of harassing or intimidating the tenant.
"Obviously we're dealing with a hot-button topic," Righter said on the Senate floor. "But, if I'm a landlord and I discover a tenant is here illegally if this were law, what can't I do?"
Castro said landlords are not allowed to use their immigration status in retaliation, such as threatening to report a tenant if they come to the landlord to fix an issue with an apartment.
"This indicates that the landlord would not be allowed to report the tenant to proper authorities due to immigration status," Righter said. "Do you disagree with that?"
Righter asked if the bill was restricted solely to retaliation and Castro responded that immigrants contribute to the economy and should not live under a cloud of fear.
"The question you'll be asked by your constituents is, 'Did you really vote to prohibit me from reporting to authorities someone that is here illegally?'" Righter said. "You have people who are landlords in your districts. It is their property."
The bill passed the Senate with 34 Yes votes and 16 No votes. It will now go on to the House and was referred to the House Rules Committee.
The bill provides that the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act does not "enlarge or diminish a landlord's right to terminate a tenancy pursuant to existing State or local law; nor does the Act enlarge or diminish any ability of local government to regulate or enforce a prohibition against a landlord's harassment of a tenant," the bill states.