GLENVIEW, Ill. – Drawing on her experience as a human rights attorney and fighting for the rights of the voiceless and vulnerable, state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, filed her first piece of legislation this week improving the process for families to designate a legal guardian for minor children in the event of separation due to immigration enforcement.
“Undocumented immigrants are often faced with the fear of being separated from their families and not knowing if their children will be cared for by someone that they know and trust,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “This legislation will help to ease some of that stress and anxiety by providing a better system for designating guardianship for children who are separated from their parents in cases of detainment and deportation.”
Gong-Gershowitz is the chief sponsor of House Bill 836, which enhances the process of guardianship for minors in cases of separation in connection with immigration enforcement. The legislation amends current law to provide a clearly defined path to designating a short term guardian to protect children in the event that a parent or guardian is detained, deported or otherwise separated from their children by immigration officials. Current Illinois law does not adequately provide a pathway for immigrant parents to do so without expending financial resources that are out of reach for many families.
As a litigation attorney and the Director of the Highland Park – Highwood Legal Aid Clinic, Gong-Gershowitz spent her career fighting for the rights of exploited women and children and working to provide access to justice for Dreamers, domestic violence victims, low-income families and our community’s most vulnerable residents.
“As an attorney, this was an issue that I dealt with when helping families navigate our legal system,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “I’m excited to work on this important issue in my new role as state Representative to help provide some clarity and guidance for families who are dealing with the already stressful immigration process.”
Gong-Gershowitz represents the 17th House District which includes portions of Evanston, Glenview, Northbrook, Skokie and Wilmette.