Illinois Immigrant Detention Heart Closure Invoice goes to Pritzker’s desk | Authorities and politics

BRENDEN MOORE

SPRINGFIELD – Building on previous efforts, a bill that would essentially force the closure of all existing immigration prisons in Illinois is being passed to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk.

Senate Act 667, also known as the Illinois Way Forward Act, passed the Illinois Senate on Friday with a 36–19 vote. It happened at Illinois House 68-47 on Monday.

Legislation would prohibit local governments from entering into immigration detention contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs. If the law were to be signed, those with existing contracts would be forced to terminate them by January 1st.

There are currently only three facilities with such contracts: the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee; the McHenry County Jail in suburban Chicago; and the Pulaski County Detention Center in deep southern Illinois.

The bill would erase ICE’s physical footprint in Illinois. The federal agency would still have the ability to build and operate its own facility in the state, but they typically contract with local governments and private companies for their incarceration operations.

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“Immigration enforcement continues to harm communities in Illinois and divide our families,” said Senator Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, the sponsor of the bill. “It is important that no matter where you live in Illinois, the local police force cannot work with ICE to enforce civil immigration.”

The legislation would complement a number of laws signed in recent years that have made Illinois one of the most immigrant-friendly states in the country.

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It amends the Illinois Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act, a law signed by the then government. Bruce Rauner in 2017 who prevents law enforcement from arresting people solely on the basis of immigration status.

In 2019, Pritzker signed a law banning privately run prisons. This came in part in response to a proposed 1,200-bed facility in Dwight. Plans were then dropped.

Aquino said the current legislation “ends the job” that job started.

The bill was promoted by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and several local grassroots organizations.

“While we have organized the termination of ICE contracts at the county level, we are also pushing SB 667 to end local ICE contracts across Illinois,” said Amanda Hall, a member of the McHenry County ICE Termination Coalition. “This bill is vital to keeping our families and neighbors safe, while setting a precedent for other states across the country to say no to ICE detention.”

It has been rejected by law enforcement groups including the Illinois Sheriff’s Association and the Fraternal Order of Police. Republicans also opposed the law.

“I think the first TRUST bill had its place, but this ties the hands of law enforcement agencies to the state so they are virtually unable to perform their duties,” said Senator Jil Tracy, R-Quincy.

The law would not prevent local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal agencies on criminal investigations.

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