The United Congress’ work builds relationships and builds power within and between leaders and communities. We advance human rights and racial equity through multiracial advocacy on issues that impact and inspire us.
Racially Equitable Redistricting
In 2011, United Congress led a coalition of 53 Black, Latino, Asian, Arab and other community organizations in advancing a racially equitable state redistricting map. We engaged community leaders, some as young as 12, in defining their own communities and drawing their own district maps. Together, we shifted the public and legislative debate on what was possible and protected all but one Black district (despite a 200,000 Black population loss), won 4 new Latino districts and successfully created the state’s first four Asian American influence districts.
Asian American Employment Plan
In 2012, United Congress helped lead an effort to pass the Asian American Employment Plan–the state’s first Asian American bill ever. Together, Black, Latino and Asian American leaders successfully advocated for the passage of this bill. While Asian Americans make up five percent of the state’s population, they only make up 2.5 percent of state employees. This bill will help increase equity and improve service delivery for the state’s fastest growing population with diverse culturally and linguistically needs.
Immigrant Driver’s Licenses
In 2012-13, United Congress stood with immigrant communities throughout the state in support of legislation that would provide driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. We held dialogues between immigrant and Black leaders to build strong support for this bill, particularly within Black communities and the Black Caucus. Throughout the legislative session, teams of Black and immigrant leaders went to Springfield together to advocate for this bill.
End of Zero Tolerance in Illinois’ Schools
In 2014-2015, United Congress worked in support of Voices of Youth to help pass the Common Sense School Discipline (SB 100), aimed at eliminating automatic “zero tolerance” suspensions and expulsions for students in Illinois. This new progressive law, was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner on Monday, August 24th, 2015 and will go into effect on September of 2016. The new law requires schools to exhaust all other means of intervention before resorting to the expulsion of students or suspending them for more than three days. It also prohibits fines and fees for misbehavior and requires schools to communicate with parents about why certain methods for disciplinary were used. Under this new law, students returning from suspension will be allowed to make up the school work they missed. Also, students suspended for more than four days will be offered access to support services, like academic counseling and mental health professionals.