Cook County (Again) Refuses to Honor ICE Detainers
Cook County, Illinois, rejected a request to negotiate terms under which County jails would transfer custody of illegal aliens to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under a 2011 ordinance approved by the Cook County Board, County jails will continue to ignore requests by ICE to detain illegal aliens who have been arrested for other crimes, and will instead release them back into the community if they post bond.
Previously, Board President Toni Preckwinkle claimed that holding aliens until ICE could take custody of them imposed cost burdens and other hardships on Cook County. In February, ICE Director John Morton sent a letter to Preckwinkle promising to address the County’s concerns. In the letter, Morton stated that if Cook County were willing to transfer aliens in their custody to ICE, his agency would assume custody of them on the same day they were released from County jails and assume any detention costs incurred after the first 48 hours.
In April, Preckwinkle rejected ICE’s offer, making it clear that the real issue was not the cost, but an ideological objection to helping ICE remove illegal aliens from the United States. “[T]he primary intent of the County ordinance was not fiscal, rather it was passed to ensure that detainees in Cook County are granted fair and equitable access to justice, regardless of their immigration status,” Preckwinkle wrote in response to Morton.
Preckwinkle reiterated this sentiment when speaking to the press. “The more I’ve gotten into it, the more offensive and unjust it seems to me to make distinctions between people based on their documentation,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “Equal justice before the law is more important to me than the budgetary considerations,” she said, ignoring the fact that the aliens are being sought by ICE for reasons other than the ones that landed them in a Cook County jail.
Unlike jurisdictions that attempt to enforce federal immigration laws that the Obama administration does not want enforced, there has been no threat of a federal lawsuit against Cook County for interfering in the federal government’s attempt to remove criminal aliens from the country.