New law will effectively end immigration detention in Illinois
CHICAGO (AP) – Illinois will effectively end immigration detention and further restrict the ability of local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities under a plan Governor JB Pritzker signed on Monday.
The new law targets agreements between local governments and the United States immigration and customs services that allow prisons to house immigrant detainees awaiting court hearings. Current contracts are due to end by January 2022 and new deals are prohibited.
Currently, three counties in Illinois – Kankakee, Pulaski and McHenry – have such agreements at local jails and house around 260 immigrant inmates in total, according to the ICE.
“Every family, every child, every human being deserves to feel safe in the place he calls home,” Pritzker said at an event in Aurora where he signed several other immigration measures .
The measure likely ends the federal agency’s power to detain immigrants in Illinois.
Most of those held by ICE across the country are held in private facilities. The agency only owns and operates a handful of its own detention facilities, and none exist in Illinois. The state banned private detention in 2019 following several unsuccessful attempts to build a new facility near Chicago.
In recent years, other states and cities have withdrawn from local agreements to house immigrant detainees, notably in California and Washington. State efforts to ban private detention have also intensified in the absence of federal immigration reform.
Unless there is a legal challenge or some other exception, the ICE’s options are either to transfer current detainees from Illinois to other states or to release them. Agency officials have repeatedly declined to comment on Illinois’ plan. An ICE spokesperson did not respond to a message left on Monday.
Immigrant rights activists plan to push for the release of detainees, saying incarceration of those awaiting immigration proceedings is inhumane and costly. However, some local leaders say they will lose much needed revenue and needed cooperation with federal authorities.
In McHenry County, the deal with ICE brings in about $ 10 million each year, according to board chairman Michael Buehler. That’s a big amount of money for the Northern Illinois County with an annual budget of around $ 200 million.
“It would affect dozens of jobs and have a negative impact on services,” he said. When asked if the county would fight the new law, he said county officials were “exploring options.”
The new law also goes beyond a 2017 statewide sanctuary protection measure signed by former Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Among other things, it strictly limits local police interactions with immigration officers unless there is a criminal warrant and restricts the ICE’s access to police facilities and equipment. . It also gives the state attorney general’s office the power to investigate alleged violations of the law.
Other newly signed laws include the creation of a task force to assess how state policies and services affect immigrants.