CHICAGO FIGHTS FOR DACA

By: Natalie Rodriguez

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The chants, “Sin papeles, sin miedo!” or “Undocumented, unafraid!” were heard on the streets of Chicago, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 during a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protest. The protest was in response to the rescission of DACA announced earlier that day by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. DACA was a program passed by the Obama administration in 2012 to protect undocumented youth from deportation. The program currently protects 800,000 undocumented persons brought illegally before the age of 16.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago. Many were undocumented recipients of DACA, such as 21-year-old Isela Ortiz.

“Growing up, I always considered myself American and I still consider myself American,” said Ortiz. “People brought over here as children, they didn’t have a choice- I didn’t even know I was undocumented until I was 16, trying to look for a job.”

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Isela Ortiz (right) and her sister, Norma Ortiz

After gathering at the Federal Plaza for a few minutes, protesters began marching down Dearborn until finally meeting at the intersection of Congress and Clark. Four DACA recipients spoke to give their own experiences with DACA and living with an undocumented status.

“Young, brave, undocumented people, risked their lives with deportation to achieve what we have now. And young people like me benefitted from that,” said Luis Gomez,
“We went to school, we got jobs, we bought houses, and we provided for our families. I went to college which was something I never thought possible.”

Overall though, there was a message of inclusivity and protection for all immigrants.

“My brother and my parents do not qualify for DACA and I cannot stand here and only advocate for myself,” said Maria Torres as she spoke to the crowd. “Who am I to say that they are less deserving than me to live without fear?”

Recipients of DACA are given a social security card that allows them to apply to college, jobs and have a driver’s license if they maintain a clean criminal record. The program allowed many undocumented persons to come out of the shadows and trust the U.S. government for the first time. After Tuesday’s decision, Ortiz, brought into the country when she was a year old, fears for her future.

“As of now, I felt safe, I felt like I wasn’t hiding, I felt like I had a voice,” said Ortiz. “Now, I feel again like I’m going to hide and like people don’t want me here. I feel like I’m not as equal to others even though I know I am.”

It is estimated that the federal government will lose $60 billion after deporting DACA taxpayers. According to a report by the Center for American Progress(CAP), 91 percent of recipients are employed contributing a large amount to the economy.

“I love helping people and I’m not a bad person,” said Ortiz. “I don’t go around selling drugs or in gangs, I’m just living my life. I don’t think I’m stealing anyone’s job, we work hard for what we got and it just sucks that people see us as taking other people’s jobs which I don’t see at all.”

Los Angeles native, Alex Shams, agrees with Ortiz’s statements, “I think the idea that they’re taking away jobs is a myth, they’re not taking away jobs, they add to the economy, they’re an important part of this country.”

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Alex Shams protests in solidarity

Shams, like many others, came to the protest in solidarity with the undocumented community.

“I grew up around undocumented people, some of my closest friends were undocumented dreamers and non-dreamers, and I’ve always felt very strongly that they have a right to be here just like everyone else,” said Shams. “I think what happened today is part of a larger process of racist policies and actions by Donald Trump targeting vulnerable communities.”

President Trump has allowed Congress a six-month period to work on a permanent solution for undocumented youth. In the meantime, Chicago DACA recipients work towards having their voices heard by those in power.

“Every so often he [Mayor Rahm Emanuel] comes on TV and says he has my back. But when DHS harasses me, when I’m trying to speak, it’s not sanctuary,” said Gomez. “That is why we undocumented people call on all the citizens of this city and of this state, to demand for Rahm Emmanuel to pass the Welcoming City Ordinance with no carveouts! As long as people who look like me, brown people can be put into gang data bases, and be deported with the help of CPD, we do not have sanctuary, we have never had sanctuary!”

Gomez refers to the 2012, Welcoming City Ordinance, passed by the City of Chicago with the purpose to create a sanctuary for immigrants as well as trust between the undocumented community and police. Under the ordinance, police officers cannot arrest someone based off their documented status or turn the person over to immigration authorities.

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Luis Gomez speaks to crowd of protesters

Although at the time seen as a step forward, many immigrants soon realized there were exemptions in the ordinance that allow Chicago Police to work with immigration agencies to deport someone. These exemptions occur an individual: has an outstanding criminal warrant; has been identified as a gang member in a gang database; has been convicted of a felony in court or are a defendant in a pending criminal case. These loopholes can prevent undocumented immigrants from standing due process and becoming criminalized before reaching the court system. Gomez asks politicians to give the protection they promised before it’s too late.

“Do not come to us with your empty words of support, I don’t need them and I don’t want them,” said Gomez. “They should act now. Act now and act boldly because if you do not you’re no different from the one who is seeking to deport me.”

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Women’s Rights are Human Rights

By Natalie Rodriguez

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Natalie Rodriguez

Our identities are multi-faceted.  I protested at the Women’s March in Chicago where it was uplifting to see the huge mass of people gathered together to fight, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. I saw a variety of posters. One read, “Unapologetically Muslim,” another “The pussy grabs back” and “Black Lives Matter”. Different flags were also present such as the LGBTQ and the Mexican flag. Everyone was fighting for a cause they believed in. I was happy to see the diversity of issues being represented but disappointed in myself. I caught myself being surprised when I saw a “Build Bridges not Walls” poster. I was caught off guard after seeing so many posters for reproductive rights. It somehow seemed out of place like it didn’t have anything to do with women’s issues. After thinking it through though, I realized it did belong.

I’ve read comments criticizing the march, “What are these women marching for? They already have equal rights.” There is a reason why the protest was called “the Women’s March”. When we think women’s rights we think reproductive rights, sexism, equal pay, which are worth protesting, especially because of threats from the new administration, such as defunding Planned Parenthood. However, women’s rights entails more than that. AS a woman, I could have gone to the march protesting for reproductive rights. The thing is, I’m also Hispanic, so I could’ve protested for immigration reform and for the rights of undocumented students. So my moral dilemma is that I could potentially protest for more than one thing. Am I in the wrong for protesting unfair treatment of immigrants in a sea of pink hats? No. Neither is the woman waving the LGBTQ flag. We both may identify as women but have overlapping categories of our identity that are worth fighting for. This concept is called intersectionality. Intersectionality refers to the interconnected nature of social categories such as race, class, and gender, etc. and the overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination and disadvantage.  An example of this is if you were a black woman. You could receive both sexism and racism and have different experiences than white women.

So when people wonder what drove people to protest my answer is plenty. The phrase, “women’s rights are human’s rights” is correct. Just because you’re a woman, it doesn’t mean you have the same experiences as other women. Being a woman means possessing fundamental human rights and that opens a whole spectrum of other worldly experiences.

Lissandra Ochoa, a protester from Chicago rallied for many reasons.

“I mean basically everything that Trump’s presidency is bringing with him, Ochoa said.”All the fear that’s coming into our communities especially our immigrant communities, I’m just afraid of what that might cost. By coming out here in solidarity with everybody else, it makes you feel a little bit better because you know that we have power as well and certainly we can show that here.”

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Lissandra Ochoa

Intersectionality is not a concept widely shared in our mainstream culture so perhaps that is why some were confused about women protesting for things not commonly linked to women’s issues. Sydne Rain, an indigenous woman, tweeted her bad experience at the Women’s March in D.C as white women (WW) were rude to Native American (NDN) women.

“Multiple WW scolded us for being ‘too loud.’ Multiple WW mocked me for lulu’ing (war cry, of sorts) alongside Ashley while she chanted.” Rain wrote in her tweet. “The WW told us we “looked beautiful” and took pictures of us without our permission, but wouldn’t listen to what we face as NDN women.”

Her experience at the Women’s March was unfortunate. Sydne makes a great point by later tweeting that her life is intersectional by necessity. The Caucasian women around them were inconsiderate of her right to protest and critical of her presence. The Caucasian women were in the wrong and should’ve respected and listened to these women’s issues just as the Native American women respected and listened to theirs. The point of the march was to stand in solidarity with one another even if our experiences and reasons for protest were different.

You can show solidarity in other ways. If you have privilege, use it to help others who don’t. The difficult times we’re living in makes it especially important to unite. If you know of a Black Lives Matter protest, go, even if you will never experience the systematic discrimination felt by African Americans. If you hear of an immigrant rights protest, go, even if you will never risk deportation yourself. Do as much as you possibly can. The members of these groups’ lives are intersectional without choice in ways that yours might not be. That doesn’t mean you can’t be an ally.

The next time a massive protest such as the Women’s March happens again, don’t be offended that someone protests something other than what you’re fighting for. Listen to their struggles because at the end of the day isn’t that what we’re all looking for, someone to listen?

Dominican Students Protest Women’s March

By Natalie Rodriguez

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Senior Hugh Toner joins his family in the Women’s March on Jan. 21

The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration saw massive worldwide protests.  Jan. 21 was a day of solidarity for millions as they gathered together in the Women’s March. In Chicago, an estimated 250,000 people showed up, several of which were Dominican University students.

SGA Vice President, Hugh Toner, went because he wanted to support the women in his family.

“I have all older sisters and my mom,” Toner said. “My older sisters they watched out for me so I wanted to be there.”

More people showed up to the rally than expected. Organizers planned a rally, guest speakers and then the actual march. However, by 11:30 a.m. it was announced that the official march was cancelled.

Regardless of the announcement, people marched anyway.

“It was just a mass of people, it was crazy and insanely awesome,” said Communications Professor CarrieLynn Reinhard. “It was kind of like the floodgates just opened and people started marching and taking over the streets.”

Senior Diana Hernandez believes that the city was frightened by the size of the rally.

“To be honest, I think they were just afraid of the amount of people and if we actually started marching down the streets we had the capacity to shut down half of the city-or all the city,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez, who also works with Dominican’s Ministry Center as a community outreach intern, was one of the students who, along with Reinhard, helped spread the word on campus via Facebook and email.

“The biggest reason why I went to the Women’s March was to advocate for a woman to have her own choice over her body,” Hernandez said. “Since they’re trying to make abortion illegal, I feel like women don’t have a choice over their body anymore, I mean they never have really.”

Sophomore Joseline Cano marched in support of different issues.

“I went specifically for immigration rights for DACA students, and also rights to basically my own body, and as well as women’s and men’s difference in pay so that’s why I precisely went,” she said.

Despite the overwhelming amount of protesters, there was a shared positivity amongst the crowd.

“It was surreal,” Toner said. “I’ve never been in an atmosphere like that. Everybody was so warm, inviting, we were all there for the same goal.”

“I loved it.” Cano said. “I like taking part in protests but it was just a whole different environment when I was there because there were so many people and they were all protesting for different things, which was really awesome to see.”

The Women’s March protesters fought for a variety of different issues but many agreed that solidarity was the main goal.

“Solidarity.” Reinhard said. “To show that there are people out there who will fight for one another if the situation is called for. Stand up for one another.”

Although the Women’s March was peaceful and welcoming, there were criticisms afterwards.

“I don’t know if I was surprised but I noticed that there were a lot of people who looked like me and I’m a white woman,” Sophomore Gabriella Fusco said. “One of the things that I’ve heard, especially from people who support the Black Lives Matter, is that they are always at our movements and where are we when they have their protests?”

Fusco believes that it’s important to support other causes as well.

“I thought that’s a valid area for critique, how can we stand for things that matter to us if we don’t stand for each other? I think that that’s a big part of what the movement is trying to push and I wish that we were there for our brothers and sisters so that way there was more support in general-we owe it to them,” she said.

Cano agreed with Fusco’s statements.

“I always feel that standing in solidarity with groups even though you don’t necessarily relate to their issues or experience it firsthand, that’s important,” Cano said. “Being able to not just help them get the attention their issue deserves but also letting the people of that community know ‘hey I may not know what you’re going through but I’m here to support you.’”

It’s important to not let the energy of protesters fizzle out as more challenges to equal rights come along. Hugh Toner believes that being involved in politics is essential.

“Right now, we should hold more marches and rallies, but I really do believe that the best way to promote change and to keep the rights that we have for everyone as well as expanding them, would be to reach out to your representatives, reach out to your congressmen,” Toner said. “Be politically active, reach out, that’s how you get democracy to work for you.”

Reinhard thinks that taking care of yourself is also important if you plan on fighting for a long time.

“Remember that it’s the long-term,” Reinhard said. “We have to do peaceful protests for as long as possible and we have to stay vigilant in order to know when it’s the proper time to do so. But because it is long-term we also have to make sure we’re practicing good self-care. We can’t always think that we have to respond to everything because that’s just going to lead to exhaustion.”

One thing is clear to Cano-the people of this nation will fight on.

“The protest’s main purpose was to show others –the government or supporters or people that have that mentality-that we aren’t going to be pushed aside anymore and that we’re going to continue fighting.”

Canadian Visa Change for Mexican Citizens Gives Hope to Undocumented Student

By Natalie Rodriguez

Former Berwyn local, Rosario Hernandez, lived in limbo since she was 7 years old. She lived as a Mexican undocumented immigrant. All of that has changed. She now has legal status and new hope as an immigrant.

Canada made that change possible.

Canada has made life easier for Mexican citizens. As of Dec. 1, 2016, Mexican citizens are able to visit Canada without a visa.

“The lifting of the visa requirement for Mexican citizens will strengthen Canada-Mexico ties and build momentum to expand trade, investment and tourism, strengthening people-to-people ties that will provide lasting benefits for both countries,” according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Hernandez moved to the small city of Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan in July. She believes that the lifting of the visa  requirement has been beneficial.

“I think that it will reunite a lot of families as well as give Mexicans a sense of peace that they are welcomed by one of their northern neighbors,” said Hernandez. “ In due time I think it will be a growth for the Canadian economy when Mexican-owned businesses start up confidently throughout its cities and begin to prosper due to an inflow of visitors.”

Hernandez’s decision to move to Canada was not an easy one. While attending Morton West High School, she became aware of challenges caused by her undocumented status.

“I was in high school learning about how much work and grit goes into applying for college as an undocumented Latina woman without financial resources,” said Hernandez.

Regardless of the obstacles, in 2014, Hernandez began her college career at Dominican University double majoring in Mathematics and Biochemistry.

Despite her qualifications, she found it difficult to make her dreams come true.

“After being rejected for an internship at the Fermi lab due to my immigration status, I got closer to my decision to move here,” she said.

Her father already had left for Canada in 2011. He also lived undocumented in the United States but was granted permanent residency by the Canadian government under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). According to the IRCC, the program allows provinces to nominate qualified individuals for skilled labor to meet local market needs.

This invitation was extended to Hernandez’s family.

“Finally, five years after applying, the Canadian government offered each member of my family permanent residency,” she said. “I was divided between continuing the work for justice I had begun with my undocumented colleagues and thinking about myself and my future career in the sciences.”

Upon arriving in Canada, Hernandez said she immediately felt welcomed.

“Arriving at immigration the officer who attended us said ‘Congratulations, welcome to Canada’ to us — a family who lived in fear of immigration officers their whole lives,” she said.

Hernandez is now seeking to continue her college education in January and meanwhile works at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatchewan. She and her family continue to establish themselves in her province.

“Four of us obtained social security numbers, permanent residency cards, and passports within the month of being here,” she said. “Documents we had only dreamt of having in the states.”

The visa waiver for Mexican citizens has furthered her hopes for a successful future in Canada. It will be easier now for family members to visit. Instead of a visa, Mexican citizens need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) which costs just $7, Canadian, and is valid for up to five years. Most that are accepted into the country are allowed to stay six months.

The prospect of reuniting with family members this holiday season reassures Hernandez she made the right decision.

“All of my blood relatives are in Mexico. My grandparents, my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews,” she said. “I am excited about the reunions that are made possible now because of this new situation.”

Hernandez also believes that the lifting of the visa requirement will show Mexican citizens that they are welcomed and open new opportunities for both countries.

“I think this also gives Mexican citizens an affirmation of our worth. Showing the world that despite of the popular negative beliefs in the States, the rest of the world does not agree,” she said. “But I definitely think it will give confidence and open many doors for Mexican and Canadian entrepreneurs as well as continue to foster the respect that Mexicans and Canadians have for one another’s culture.”

Despite her newfound legal status in Canada, Hernandez said she will always feel like a part of the undocumented community.

“It has been my reality since I was 7 years old. I will always identify with the undocumented, immigrant minorities,” she said. “I am proud and have been unafraid since I discovered at Dominican that I was not alone.”

Berwyn Community Divided About Video Game Poker

By Natalie Rodriguez

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Advertisement for video poker

Years after video game poker was approved, Berwyn residents are still conflicted about the machines. Steve Wallon, longtime homeowner in Berwyn believes that video game poker damages the community.

“This hurts a community’s image, especially for Berwyn, by attracting a certain crowd that is not desirable to young families or new home buyers,” says Wallon.

Alderman Ted Polashek, who is currently running for mayor against incumbent Robert Lovero, said he feels the same way. According to Polashek, although there are ordinances for the signs, their presence still affects the community’s image.

“You’re selling Berwyn as a great community for your family and as you’re driving down you got some gambling casinos are really right next to each other,” said Polashek. “You got one down a hundred feet from another one, or two hundred feet from another one and they got neon signs in there blinking and it’s like Pottersville in some areas of town.”

Many establishments have installed video game technologies where both the state and the city receive a percentage of the revenue made. According to Berwyn’s Finance Director Rasheed Jones, the city earned revenue of $385,104.14 in 2015 from video game poker and the revenue goes towards the City’s major departments,

“Consistent with most municipalities, the Video Gaming Tax revenue is deposited into the city’s General Fund,” said Jones. “The General Fund supports the city’s major departments, such as the Fire Department, the Police Department, and the Public Works Department,” Jones said.

In a September interview, Mayor Robert Lovero stated that video game machines had generally been positive.

“People are objecting to these gaming places and there have been problems in bars, but not because of the machines,” he said.

According to Lovero, the city benefits greatly from the machines.

“The city makes $40,000 a month just from video poker,” said Lovero. “…video poker keeps us at a level where we don’t have to raise taxes on houses. Because of video poker, businesses choose to open in Berwyn.”

However, Polashek believes that the new video game technologies have hurt long time established businesses in the area.

“… these mom and pop shops that have been around for years that feel like they’re neglected now, they’ve been part of the community for a long time,” said Polashek. “Now that these video gaming places just popped out of nowhere they’re taking business away from businesses that have been established already.”

Will Diaz, bartender at For Old Times Sake, at 6428 W Cermak Road, saw an increase in business since the lounge installed video game poker machines two months ago.

“Absolutely, there was a lot of people that wouldn’t come in here before the machines came,” said Diaz. “There’s a bar across the street that doesn’t have the machines so there’s people here that come just to play the machines ‘ they know we have them.”

Other residents, however, worry about the effects video game poker has on the community. Wallon says that video game poker makes the city less attractive.

“No one wants to live near gambling,” he said. “It’s frowned upon by general society by being a vice.”

Ines Arteaga, manager of Guadalajara Grill and Bar at 6814 Cermak Road, said she believes that playing the machines can become a habit.

“…I mean get addicted to it, I play myself, I didn’t play before, so like having them here,” she said. “I’ll get out of work and start playing.”

The lure of a big payoff makes it appealing.

“Thinking you’re going to win, like you’re going to win a major jackpot, yeah OK.”

This urge to play is encouraged by the many neon signs advertising playing slots. Residents don’t have to look far to find a machine. According to the Illinois Gaming Board, there are currently 54 establishments and 241 video game technologies in Berwyn. Compared to other neighboring towns, Berwyn exceeds North Riverside who has ten establishments with video game poker, Stickney five, Cicero 29, and Oak Park zero.

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Provided by the Illinois Gaming Board

Approved on April 26, a new ordinance limits the number of video game cafes (establishments created for the sole purpose of video poker) to 15, which is the number of cafes currently in Berwyn. All other establishments that want video game poker machines must have a liquor license and have been in business for at least one year.

Polashek doesn’t believe the city should get rid of all the video game cafes in town but that a better control of the number of video game cafes is needed through the process of an ordinance.

“…If one were to close, you make the amendment to say ‘we’re only allowing 10 video gaming cafes in town, cut it back from 15 to 10 and after that you cut it back to five,’” said Polashek. “Like I said you want to make sure that it’s done respectfully.”

Wallon believes that there is no outlet to complain when these decisions are made.

“Many decisions regarding development are done behind closed doors or during awkward city hall meeting times where many can’t attend…” he said. “ They are supposed to keep tabs on this stuff, but they have failed the residents miserably.”

Polashek thinks that better communication is needed with the community regarding these decisions as well.

“You need to make sure that you ask the residents what they feel, do a meeting and talk to people, try to get a feel,” said Polashek.

Wallon said that video poker is not the best way to improve Berwyn.

“If they want revitalization, they need to invest in infrastructure and build a desirable community. Allowing gambling facilities into the area is not the answer.”

Polashek believes that this issue should be addressed.  “Berwyn is a great community for the family and we want is to preserve that,” said Polashek. “… you want to make sure you got to be pro-business but at the same time you got to make sure you’re not selling your soul for a quick buck.”

CVS in River Forest targeted by criminal organizations

Well-organized shoplifters have targeted the CVS on North and Thatcher in the past few weeks, according to River Forest Deputy Police Chief, Jim O’Shea,

“Since March 1st, we’ve had 10 retail theft incidents at the CVS at 7929 W. Ave. and there has been one arrest that we’ve been able to make for retail theft out of those 10 incidents,” O’Shea said.

The unlucky shopper was arrested at 7 p.m. April 19 trying to run away with $275 worth of products. The person in this incident was charged with felony of theft.  But two days later another shoplifter got away, O’Shea said.

Shoplifters at CVS take mainly cosmetic and personal hygiene products. O’Shea said he thinks they find CVS an easy, defenseless target and can resell what they steal.

“We believe it’s being targeted because they do not have any security on the premise,” O’Shea said. “We believe that it’s probably been identified by certain  criminal organizations as a location that you can get in and out of quickly and that it also has the products that are easy to sell to second hand markets.”

“And, obviously, the items that are being stolen aren’t being stolen for personal consumption they’re being sold to probably a fencing operation or a store that purchases stolen goods.”

RFPD is increasing foot patrols and visits to the store, but CVS’ corporate rules do little to prevent problems, O’Shea said. For example, the store isn’t supplied with security caps or stickers on their high-end liquor.

“ Outside of (CVS) being able to assist with security footage there’s not much else because the corporation will not supply security to the store because it’s not in, what would be considered a high crime area,” said O’Shea.

Shoplifters also target other River Forest stores, but less often.

At the River Forest Walgreens, 7251 Lake St., a customer came in, asked to see a bottle of expensive liquor then ran away with, according to shift manager Ashlee Guzman.

“She was just showing him and he just grabbed it and ran, like really quick action. It was like a five second thing he just grabbed it and ran. We’re not going to run after him but we did call the cops,” said Guzman.

O’Shea said he doesn’t anticipate the pace of CVS shoplifting to slow down any time soon.

“We don’t hope for it to recur but based on current patterns probably until there are some additional arrests or there’s some additional security measures at the store there’s a good probability based on not only crime analysis or even common sense, that there’s going to be additional incidents at that location,” said O’Shea.

State Budget Crisis affects Charities across Illinois

Dominican students of the School of Social Work have been seeing how the state budget impasse affects social services across the state. A large number of charities are being forced to shut down some of their programs and make some drastic cuts because of lack of funding from the state of Illinois. The most vulnerable individuals of our population are feeling the negative effects of the budget crisis, these students say.

Student Amy Simpson, has seen senior services defunded. She interns at RUSH University Senior Care and has done case management for a respite care program that offers temporary relief to families and caregivers of elderly persons.

“I do a lot of case management through a hospital and doctors’ offices, and one of the services that we often refer to is the respite programing which basically brings someone into a home to take care of, usually an elderly person sometimes with disability needs assistance and relief for the caregiver and it was put on hold at the end of last year,” said Simpson.

Unfortunately, according to Simpson the program is on hold indefinitely.

“The last call, the last respite I had, they were taking the calls but they were basically on backup system, so they’re taking them but they’re on hold. So everyone’s in the lineup, waiting. So right now the respite program is virtually not funded right now. There’s a long waitlist,” said Simpson.

The political disagreement between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats in the state legislature has left Illinois without a state budget since July. According to student Gracie Mayer, social services that receive most of their funding from the state have affected those most marginalized. She interns as a mentor for foster care in the organization Children’s Home + Aid aid and has seen the effects of the budget crisis.

“They had some cuts but most of the cuts went to supports for youth in foster care, who identified as LGBTQ, so a lot of times the programs that get cut from social services have been ones for populations that are more marginalized, of the already marginalized, so like LGBTQ supports, supports for older persons, thus services a lot of times get cut like services for those individuals with developmental disabilities or intellectual disabilities,” said Mayer.

Senior care services seem to be the most affected when it comes to program cuts. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, a nonprofit service organization that helps those most in need, has experienced loses in their senior care programs. According to a recent press release:

“The programs that saw the largest cuts were those helping seniors, including home care. Programs eliminated were case management for seniors, adult protective services, and LSSI’s Adult Day Care Center in Moline.”

Due to the lack of state funding, Lutheran Social Services had to cut 30 programs and more than 750 staff positions. As a result, about 4,700 people will lose aid, according to the press release.

Seniors aren’t the only ones being affected though. Many others in services such as substance abuse have felt the repercussions of the impasse. Graduate student Remona Sanders has seen this occur in her internship with the Haymarket Center.

“The first semester I started I was sent to Haymarket and it was a healthy fathers program, and because of the budget cuts they had to close it,” Sanders said. “Their grant got canceled, and it was primarily I think 95 percent African American men who were in substance abuse and they were having group sessions to help them with their fatherhood skills. It got cut so I had to find another way to make my hours in the internship.”

Associate Professor of Social Work, Leticia Villarreal Sosa, believes that the full ramifications of the budget impasse will drive people into dire situations.

“Who knows what all the consequences are going to be?” she said. “We have got a lot of people not able to access social services, not able to access subsidized child care, we don’t know what the full implications are going to be in terms of what’s going to happen …I think we’re going to push people into more dire poverty as a result.”