Illinois Bill Passes to Expand Sanctuary Policies and Ban Immigration Detention
FAIR Take | June 2021
Illinois appears to be competing with California and a handful of other states to dole out the most benefits, protections and special privileges to illegal aliens. Most recently, the legislature passed a bill that would expand the state’s extreme and dangerous sanctuary policies. Additionally, the bill bans contracts to hold detainees for removal from the U.S. by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Illinois has been a sanctuary state since 2017 when it adopted its so-called Trust Act, which prohibits state and local law enforcement from honoring immigration detainers, but the new bill goes much further.
The state has three counties in immigration detention contracts with ICE: Kankakee, McHenry, and Pulaski, which will all be shut down under the bill recently passed by the legislature. In addition to depriving counties of federal revenues and well-paying corrections jobs at a time when they’re finally bouncing back from COVID-19 related losses, it forces ICE to move detainees to other states further from their families and legal counsel.
As passed, the so-called “Illinois Way Forward Act,” Senate Bill (SB) 667, would:
- Prohibit immigration, citizenship or birthplace inquiries or investigations of anyone in law enforcement custody or who has been stopped or detained;
- Clarify that probation officers are included under the definition of law enforcement officer, i.e., all the same sanctuary restrictions apply to them;
- Ban restrictions or discrimination in access to programs in custody or on probation based on immigration status;
- Ban new immigration detention contracts and renewal of existing contracts;
- Require local governments and law enforcement agencies in existing immigration detention contracts to exercise the termination provisions of those contracts on or before January 1, 2022;
- Ban all forms of cooperation, participation, assistance or support of immigration enforcement except with a federal judicial criminal warrant;
- Require law enforcement agencies to report annually to the state attorney general (AG) all requests for assistance, notification, etc., by federal immigration officials;
- Empower the AG to investigate violations of sanctuary policies by law enforcement and bring suit to enjoin violations; and
- Create a rebuttable presumption a victim or witness seeking law enforcement certification for T, U, or V visa was helpful, and impose new reporting requirements of such requests to the AG.
The bill was introduced on February 25 by Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago), the Majority Whip. On May 28, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 36-19, with all the Republicans and one Democrat opposing it.
The House moved quickly to pass the bill. On May 31, it passed by a vote of 68-47 with all the Republicans and two Democrats opposed.
The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (ILFOP) opposed the bill stressing its dangers. ILFOP president Chris Southland asked “[w]hy would we not want to work with the federal authorities to make sure violent, illegal immigrants are not released (from local law enforcement custody) within our communities?”
The bill now goes to Governor J.B. Pritzker (D), who is expected to sign it.