State Representative Daniel J. Burke (D-Chicago) has been honored for passing legislation in Springfield allowing nuns and other members of religious communities to visit county prisons statewide to counsel the undocumented.
The Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants (ICDI), an advocacy group founded by two Mercy nuns, bestowed the Political Courage Award on State Representative Burke at their 10th annual dinner at Misericordia Home.
ICDI Co-Founders Sister Pat Murphy, RSM. (center) and Sister JoAnn Persch (RSM) presented the award.
The legislation amended the County Jail Act to provide that all county jails in Illinois which have entered into intergovernmental agreements with the United States Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency “shall be required to provide to religious workers reasonable access.”
“It is my hope that by ensuring that religious organizations have proper access to detention facilities that nuns such as Sisters Pat and JoAnn will be able to advocate on behalf of the rights of immigrants while providing counseling, comfort and spiritual guidance,” State Representative Burke said.
Prior to enactment of Representative Burke’s legislation, county jails across the state were refusing to allow religious organizations access to comfort ICE detainees.