Category Archives: Press (Illinois)

States Resisting Program Central to Obama’s Immigration Strategy (NYT)

States Resisting Program Central to Obama’s Immigration Strategy
By JULIA PRESTON

Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images

A program that is central to President Obama’s strategy to toughen enforcement of immigration laws is facing growing resistance from state governments and police officials across the country.

Late Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois said he was pulling his state out of the program, known as Secure Communities, the first time a state has sought to withdraw entirely. In California, where the program is already under way throughout the state, the Legislature is considering a bill that would allow counties or police agencies to choose whether to participate.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick has held a series of heavily attended and sometimes raucous meetings on the program in an effort to vent criticism and build support for the administration’s approach. In Maryland, Montgomery County considered withdrawing, then concluded reluctantly that it had to take part.

Under the program, the fingerprints of every person booked by the police are checked against Department of Homeland Security databases for immigration violations. That is in addition to routine checks against the F.B.I.’s criminal databases.

State officials and federal lawmakers have questioned the program, saying that Homeland Security officials conveyed misleading information about whether participation was mandatory or whether states could opt out. Some state officials, led by Governor Quinn, said the program was not accomplishing its stated goal of deporting convicted criminals, but had swept up many immigrants who were here illegally but had not been convicted of any crime.

Mr. Obama has begun an effort, seen on both sides of the aisle in Congress as an uphill fight, to win support for some kind of immigration legislation this year.

But the resistance to Secure Communities has exposed tensions in the president’s immigration strategy, which has led to record numbers of deportations — almost 800,000 — in the past two years. The deportations have antagonized Latino immigrant communities that want Mr. Obama to press for legislation offering legal status to illegal immigrants, and that strongly supported Democrats in recent elections. Yet the deportations have not convinced many Republicans that the administration is strong enough on enforcement.

The states’ objections are setting up a confrontation with the Department of Homeland Security, whose secretary, Janet Napolitano, has said that Secure Communities is mandatory and will be extended to all jurisdictions in the country by 2013. The program, started in Texas in 2008, is currently operating in more than 1,200 local jurisdictions.

At a Congressional hearing this week, Ms. Napolitano said that the program was crucial to the department’s goal of finding criminal immigrants in state and local jails and deporting them.

Governor Quinn, in a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that runs the Secure Communities program, said the Illinois State Police were withdrawing because the program had not met the terms of a 2009 agreement with the state. Under that memorandum, the program’s purpose was to identify and deport immigrants “who have been convicted of serious criminal offenses.”

Statistics from the immigration agency showed that nearly one-third of immigrants deported from Illinois under the program had no criminal convictions. It is a civil violation for an immigrant to be in the United States illegally; it is not a crime.

“Illinois signed up to help I.C.E. remove criminals convicted of serious crimes, but based on the statistics from I.C.E., that’s not what was happening,” said Brie Callahan, the governor’s spokeswoman.

Governor Quinn, a Democrat, suspended the program in November and entered negotiations with homeland security officials. Illinois officials decided to withdraw after concluding that the immigration agency’s operation of the program was “flawed,” the governor’s office said.

So far, 26 out of 102 local jurisdictions in Illinois had begun participating. Governor Quinn asked the agency to “deactivate” those places.

Immigration agency officials said that John Morton, the head of the agency, would go to Springfield, Ill., on Friday to meet with officials there. In a statement, the agency said it was conducting a full review of the program “to identify any irregularities that could indicate misconduct in particular jurisdictions” and to tighten its focus on criminals.

Most criticism of the program has come from Democratic allies of Mr. Obama. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has asked him to suspend the program and re-organize it to focus more closely on deporting violent criminals, drug traffickers and other serious offenders. The American Immigration Lawyers Association also called on Mr. Obama this week to suspend the program.

Republicans in Congress, seeking even tougher enforcement of immigration laws, would like to see more of the program.

“All too often, illegal immigrants who have committed crimes go on to commit more,” said Lamar Smith of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “To make our streets safer, state and local governments should embrace Secure Communities,” he said. “Opposition to this program endangers Americans.”

California’s concerns were first raised by several local law enforcement officials, including Michael Hennessey, the longtime sheriff of San Francisco. They argued that engaging local police in immigration enforcement would erode hard-earned trust with Latino and other immigrant communities. Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary immigration subcommittee, began questioning immigration agency officials on whether local police and governments could opt out.

This year, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, an immigrant advocate organization, obtained a trove of e-mails and other internal documents concerning Secure Communities from the immigration agency through a Freedom of Information request.

After examining those documents, Ms. Lofgren and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, also a Democrat, demanded that the homeland security inspector general open an investigation. Ms. Lofgren said officials had deliberately misled local governments into thinking they could choose to opt out of the program.

“I believe that some false and misleading statements may have been made intentionally, while others were made recklessly,” Mr. Lofgren wrote the inspector general.

In an apologetic response, Mr. Morton, the head of the immigration agency, said the agency “takes full responsibility for the confusion and inconsistent statements” about participation. But he said expanding Secure Communities remained a top priority.

In Massachusetts, Governor Patrick said late last year that he would accept the program statewide, then paused after an outcry from immigrant organizations, who said it was bound to catch many illegal immigrant workers with no criminal history. The town meetings he organized have drawn both opponents and very vocal supporters of the program.

State Pulls Out of Controversial Immigration Program

State Pulls Out of Controversial Immigration Program
by KARI LYDERSEN | May 4, 2011

Governor Pat Quinn is ending Illinois’s participation in a controversial federal immigration program meant to deport immigrants guilty of serious crimes, which has resulted in the detention of mostly immigrants convicted of no crimes or minor offenses.

Illinois is the first state in the nation to agree to participate and then withdraw from the Secure Communities program, which obligates local law enforcement agencies to share fingerprints of anyone arrested with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

As the Chicago News Cooperative reported in March, ICE officials and contractors had aggressively pushed to implement the program in Chicago despite county and city ordinances that appear to prohibit city and county law enforcement agencies from participating.

Quinn’s announcement came as the state legislature was scheduled today to debate and vote on the Smart Enforcement Act, which would have allowed counties to opt out of the program, require an accounting of its cost to local law enforcement agencies and mandate it only be used for immigrants with serious criminal convictions. Senate president John Cullerton and House Speaker Mike Madigan on Saturday attended an immigrants rights rally centered on the Smart Enforcement Act and the Illinois DREAM Act, also scheduled for a vote today, which would provide scholarships for undocumented students at no expense to taxpayers.

ICE officials have said state and local participation in Secure Communities is mandatory and plan to implement the program nationwide. But Quinn said in a statement today that the agency has not answered state and local officials’ questions about the high number of immigrants detained after being arrested for often minor offenses, including traffic stops. ICE statistics show that in Illinois more than three quarters of those targeted for deportation through the program were convicted of no crimes or minor misdemeanors.

“Secure Communities as it has been implemented has turned into a program that is indiscriminately destroying families,” said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which obtained internal ICE documents showing how ICE officials strategized to convince Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Mayor Richard M. Daley to cooperate with the program.

The Illinois State Police in November 2009 signed a memorandum of agreement with ICE that laid the groundwork for individuals counties to be enrolled. In November 2010 Quinn ordered the program suspended, with no more counties enrolling. Now the 26 participating counties — including every county surrounding Cook — will be “de-activated.”

“After review, we were not satisfied, and determined that ICE’s ongoing implementation of Secure Communities is flawed,” said Quinn in a statement. “ICE has been informed that ISP (the Illinois State Police) is ending its participation in the Secure Communities program. ISP will continue working with the FBI and ICE to facilitate removal of criminals with undocumented status who are convicted of serious crimes.”

ICE officials were upset that Washington D.C. opted out of the program and New York State also refused to participate, testing ICE assertions that the program is mandatory, as revealed in documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and Benjamin Cardozo Law School. The Illinois coalition received and analyzed the Illinois documents.

NDLON legal affairs director Chris Newman said other states will be closely watching what happens in Illinois, amidst growing national discontent over the program.

“The simple fact is DHS cannot make law and policy by decree,” said Newman, referring to the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a part. “We can’t take DHS at its word when they say it’s mandatory. That’s their opinion.”

Documents Reveal Pressure to Comply With Program to Deport Immigrants (NYT)

Documents Reveal Pressure to Comply With Program to Deport Immigrants

By KARI LYDERSEN
Published: March 26, 2011

Federal immigration officials, frustrated by the refusal of Chicago and Cook County to join a controversial program aimed at deporting immigrants with criminal records, pressed Mayor Richard M. Daley and Sheriff Tom Dart in an aggressive campaign to obtain participation from reluctant police authorities, according to internal documents.

Last spring, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials tried to put the program, Secure Communities, in effect in Cook County without clear consent from the sheriff’s office. Their advisers proposed asking Rahm Emanuel, then White House chief of staff, to use his Chicago connections to intervene with unresponsive local leaders.

Chicago and Cook County were among several localities nationwide that refused to enroll in the program, which involves sharing fingerprints of anyone arrested with the Department of Homeland Security. Chicago and Cook County cited so-called sanctuary ordinances that prohibit local officials from involvement in immigration enforcement.

The Secure Communities program is in effect in more than 1,000 jurisdictions in 40 states, including Illinois. The federal agency plans to take it nationwide by 2013 and says it does not need local approval to do so.

E-mails and other documents — obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, an immigrant-rights group — show that immigration officials saw Chicago and Cook County among the cities to be test cases for whether localities are allowed to opt out of the program.

Secure Communities is meant to find and deport illegal immigrants found guilty of serious crimes. But the immigration agency’s statistics through February 2011 show that 32 percent of immigrants put into deportation proceedings in Illinois had no criminal convictions. Nationwide, 28 percent had no criminal record.

“The original concept was to get the really bad people out of the country, but are those the only ones you’re getting?” Mr. Dart said. “I could never get a straight answer. If it’s getting murderers and rapists, we’re all for that, but if you’re talking about people pulled over because their license plate isn’t up to date — my staff kept coming back to me saying we never got clarification.”

Brian Hale, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in an e-mail that the agency did not need permission from state or local authorities to carry out Secure Communities. The idea to involve Mr. Emanuel, he said, came from contractors working for the agency and did not reach top ICE officials. He said that ICE was not aware of any contact with Mr. Emanuel.

The e-mails show disagreement within the agency over whether state and local governments can refuse to participate. Local sanctuary ordinances do not bar participation, some argued, because Secure Communities requires local officials only to share fingerprints but does not require them to question or detain suspected illegal immigrants.

The internal documents are dated between August 2009 and October 2010. A February 2010 draft report, prepared by the Secure Communities office in Washington, suggested appealing to Mr. Emanuel to intervene if local officials “continue to refuse to attend briefings or join in a dialogue about the benefits of S.C.”

A spokesman for Mr. Emanuel would not comment on whether ICE contacted him while he was at the White House. As mayor, the spokesman said, Mr. Emanuel will adhere to Chicago’s sanctuary ordinance.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement signs agreements with state police agencies, then seeks to enroll that state’s county and city law enforcement agencies in Secure Communities.

The Illinois State Police joined the program in November 2009, and since then the program has been put in effect in 26 of 102 Illinois counties, including all the counties bordering Cook. The internal documents describe this strategy as forming a “ring” around a “resistant site.”

On April 28, 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent an e-mail to Mr. Dart’s office saying the Secure Communities program would be activated May 5.

Mr. Dart’s chief of staff at the time, Bill Cunningham, acknowledged the request, by e-mail. He mentioned the sanctuary ordinance but cited federal law that prevented local governments from interfering with immigration enforcement. “The system can be activated without our approval,” he wrote.

Even after John Morton, assistant secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, traveled to Chicago on May 19 to meet with Mr. Dart and Mr. Daley in an apparent effort to secure their cooperation, Chicago and Cook County did not adopt the program.

Then, on May 27, the Illinois State Police told the federal agency to back off. The state police’s legal department did not view Mr. Cunningham’s comment as consent, according to an e-mail.

“This is not good, not good at all!” the Secure Communities regional coordinator, an agency contractor named Dan Cadman, wrote in an internal e-mail. “Time perhaps for a full court press?” Mr. Hale said Mr. Cadman’s contract was terminated on Friday.

Immigration and F.B.I. officials met Aug. 27 and decided the F.B.I. would “reach out to personal contacts” in Chicago and Cook County about Secure Communities. But in November, the office of Gov. Pat Quinn ordered the state police not to allow any more counties to enroll, pending a review of how the program was being carried out. Mr. Hale said the agency was still planning to put the program in effect here.

Immigration-rights advocates say the agency overstepped its bounds. “They were basically conspiring to make it appear Cook County had no choice,” said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which obtained the documents from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

Alderman Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward), who spearheaded the county sanctuary ordinance during his time as county commissioner, said Secure Communities “would violate the spirit” of the sanctuary ordinance.

“They just come in here like Rambos and do what they want,” he said.

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Chronology: Secure Communities and Cook County

Chronology: Secure Communities and Cook County

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has created an excellent animated chronology on their website that you can view by clicking here. Below is the timeline in a static format.

Event Date: Event Title: Event Description:
06/06/2009 ICE conducts internal pre-deployment briefing in Chicago ICE conducts internal pre-deployment briefing in Chicago
07/23/2009 ICE meets with Illinois State Police about Secure Communities, gets agreement to move forward. ICE meets with Illinois State Police about Secure Communities, gets agreement to move forward.
11/02/2009 Illinois State Police signs Memorandum of Agreement with ICE. Illinois State Police signs Memorandum of Agreement with ICE.
11/24/2009 DuPage and Kane Counties are activated. DuPage and Kane Counties are activated.
01/05/2010 ICE tentatively identifies Chicago/ Cook County as the next target ICE tentatively identifies Chicago/ Cook County as the next target “for which I should gin up a strategy” to get those locations signed onto SC. This email further notes that “if we adopt the ‘it’s not optional’ point of view, that certainly simplifies life, no?” (page 12676)
02/09/2010 ICE distributes an internal memo laying out a proposed strategy for getting Chicago and Cook to participate in Secure Communities The memo notes that “pro-immigrant nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have a strong voice and presence” in Cook County, and that “pro-immigrant sentiments are also shared by many political leaders” including Congressman Luis Gutierrez. Also discusses how ICE should surround Cook with a “ring of interoperability” by activating counties around it and engaging police departments in suburban Cook and options of approaching White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
03/04/2010 David Venturella meets with CCSO Chief of Staff Bill Cunningham, who “indicates that CCSO is interested in participating in the SC program SC Executive Director David Venturella meets with CCSO Chief of Staff Bill Cunningham, who “indicates that CCSO is interested in participating in the SC program….” The agenda for the meeting lists “sanctuary ordinances” for both Chicago and Cook County as a point of discussion
03/11/2010 ICIRR executive director Joshua Hoyt meeting with President Obama, communicates concerns that local enforcement and cruel deportations are destroying families. ICIRR executive director Joshua Hoyt meeting with President Obama, communicates concerns that local enforcement and cruel deportations are destroying families.
03/24/2010 250,000 people rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the “Reform Immigration for America: March for America.” More than 250,000 people rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the “Reform Immigration for America: March for America.”
04/01/2010 ICE: Activation of Cook “huge accomplishment” ICE emails indicate the agency’s intention to activate Cook (without CPD) on April 13, refer to this activation as a “huge accomplishment.”
04/04/2010 Secure Communities and Criminal Justice Information Service discuss activating Cook minus Chicago Police Department. Secure Communities and Criminal Justice Information Service discuss activating Cook minus Chicago Police Department. Criminal Justice Information Service has doubts and requests meeting with ICE and Illinoins State Police.
04/08/2010 An ICE email refers to “political sensitivities” and using a personal relationship to get Cook activated “Our request to partially deploy in Cook County is based on political sensitivities in that jurisdiction. We were able to leverage a personal/professional relationship that exists with the Sheriff that has cleared the way for us to proceed…. We continue to work toward full activation of Cook by continuing our outreach activities. We feel strongly that once we activate as requested, this will aid us in removing the remaining obstacles to full activation.”
04/13/2010 Six additional Illinois counties are activated, including Lake, McHenry, Will, and Winnebago. Six additional Illinois counties are activated, including Lake, McHenry, Will, and Winnebago. Cook is not activated; however, every county immediately surrounding Cook is now activated—just as the February 9 memo envisioned.
04/14/2010 ICE, CJIS, and ISP conduct a conference call to discuss activating Cook minus CPD. ISP does not want to move forward until further consultation with superiors “The ISP stated that they were not concerned with how we activated as long as we kept them informed. CJIS team lead repeatedly makes reference to the sensitivities. During the course of the conference call, the ISP representative becomes increasingly reticent to make a commitment to moving forward in Cook and indicates that he must consult his superiors before any further steps are taken toward activation.”
04/14/2010 “All law enforcement agencies are expected to be part of Secure Communities by 2013 in accordance with Congressional mandate.” An ICE draft statement regarding Cook states that “All law enforcement agencies are expected to be part of Secure Communities by 2013 in accordance with Congressional mandate.” (page 9928)
04/20/2010 “I am fairly certain that my command will not approve activation… without written notification from Cook County.” ISP states CCSO is “neutral” on SC, but insists on written notice from CCSO. “I am fairly certain that my command will not approve activation… without written notification from Cook County.” (page 13101)
04/22/2010 it may constitute an impediment to a fairly sizable number of police departments within the County RC emails ISP, states that “if activation of Cook County doesn’t go forward, it may constitute an impediment to a fairly sizable number of police departments within the County…which have evinced an interest in going forward but which rely on CCSO for their booking and jailing.” (page 13391)
04/28/2010 Twenty-two Chicago-area community leaders, including ICIRR’s Hoyt, stage a civil disobedience action at the ICE Broadview detention facility April 28, 2010 – Twenty-two Chicago-area community leaders, including ICIRR’s Hoyt, stage a civil disobedience action at the ICE Broadview detention facility.
04/28/2010 if CCSO responds positively to a go/ no-go message, that would be sufficient for activation to move forward.” ICE RC communicates to ISP about Cook activation. ISP says it will conduct a legal review of whether “if CCSO responds positively to a go/ no-go message, that would be sufficient for activation to move forward.” (page 5199)
04/28/2010 ICE notifies CCSO that SC will be activated on May 5, ICE notifies Cook County Sheriff’s Office that Secure Communities will be activated on May 5, asks CCSO for confirmation. (page 13105)
04/29/2010 Cunningham responds to the April 28 activation message: “..we are aware of your agency’s plan to activate the IDENT/IAFIS [SC] on May 5, 2010…. [CCSO] believes a local ordinance may forbid us from signing any official agreement with ICE related to the IDENT/IAFIS system. However, we are also mindful of federal law (8 USCS 1373) which, in part, prohibits local and state governments from blocking ICE’s ability to obtain information regarding the immigration status of any individual, and al, and as such, the system can be activated without our approval
05/01/2010 tens of thousands of marchers for immigration reform in downtown Chicago; Rep. Gutierrez, ICIRR’s Hoyt, and other immigrant rights leaders are arrested while protesting in front of the White House. Days after enactment of Arizona’s SB 1070, ICIRR and others organize tens of thousands of marchers for immigration reform in downtown Chicago; Rep. Gutierrez, ICIRR’s Hoyt, and other immigrant rights leaders are arrested while protesting in front of the White House.
05/11/2010 “I was hoping we could go for a double-whammy today, by having both NYS [New York State] MOA and Cook County” ICE continues internal communication about the status of Cook County. “I was hoping we could go for a double-whammy today, by having both NYS [New York State] MOA and Cook County” (page 7176)
05/18/2010 Cunningham e-mails the ICE Chicago Field Office Director to ask if Secure Communities is activated. Cunningham e-mails the ICE Chicago Field Office Director to ask if Secure Communities is activated. (page 12867)
05/19/2010 ICE Director John Morton visits Chicago ICE Director John Morton visits Chicago, meets with Sheriff Dart and Mayor Daley for a tour of Chicago Detention and Removal Operations, also meets with Chicago Tribune editorial board.
05/19/2010 E-mail noting that FBI will not activate Secure Communities in Cook until Illinois State Police confirms and approves. E-mail noting that FBI will not activate Secure Communities in Cook until Illinois State Police confirms and approves. “As you know, FBI CJIS will not go forward with interoperability activation in Cook County until the Illinois State Police, acting as the designated SIB, confirms.” (page 13107)
05/22/2010 “a fairly twisted comparison between Secure Communities and the Arizona law. Still, it’s likely to make getting Cook County onboard that much harder, and that was probably their intent.” ICIRR and local leaders organize a march to the McHenry County Jail to protest ICE enforcement and detention policies, including Secure Communities. Two days later ICE circulates a Chicago Tribune article regarding the march, with one ICE staffer commenting “a fairly twisted comparison between SC and the Arizona law. Still, it’s likely to make getting Cook County onboard that much harder, and that was probably their intent.”
05/27/2010 Full court press? Illinois State Police informs does not allow Cook activation. “[T]he e-mail …from [Cunningham] does not constitute a request to be included or to participate in the Secure Communities program…. [Cunningham’s] acknowledgement that ‘the system can be activated without our approval’ evidences CCSO’s position that they have in factff not given approval… my recommendation is that the ISP not take part in the activation of Cook County.” (pages 13108-9) RC responds: “This is not good, not good at all. Time perhaps for a full-court press?” (pages 5205-6)
08/24/2010 ICE revisits Cook activation. “In order to accommodate political considerations in the city of Chicago, the SC PMO bypassed the Chicago PD [Police Department], which was unresponsive, and reached out to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO)…. CCSO showed promise until, at CJIS’s request, SC, CJIS, and the ISP met to discuss the situation.” (page 7508)
08/30/2010 FBI sends a message to ISP attempting to see if Cook County could be activated. FBI sends a message to ISP attempting to see if Cook County could be activated. “I believe Cook County PD [Police Department] and the Sheriff’s Office wanted to participate but the Chicago PD [Police Department] did not.” (page 7572)
09/01/2010 ISP responds to FBI: “To my knowledge neither the Cook County Sheriff nor CPD has stated in writing that they would like to participate.” ISP responds to FBI: “To my knowledge neither the Cook County Sheriff nor CPD has stated in writing that they would like to participate.” (page 7689)
09/21/2010 concerns over 10th Amendment issues regarding “whether Secure Communities can force the state to participate.” An internal ICE email refers to communications with ISP counsel regarding Cook, cites concerns over 10th Amendment issues regarding “whether SC can force the state to participate.” (page 11848)
10/12/2010 “Chicago and Cook County IL have in fact opted out.” Responding to an Associated Press article on SC, “No Opt-Out Policy for Program Checking Legal Status,” an ICE staffer notes: “Chicago and Cook County IL have in fact opted out.” (page 2395)
01/14/2011 ICIRR releases its report “Immigration Enforcement: The Dangerous Reality Behind ‘Secure Communities.’” January 14, 2011 – Joined by Rep. Gutierrez and other elected officials, ICIRR releases its report “Immigration Enforcement: The Dangerous Reality Behind ‘Secure Communities.’” The report highlights the high rates of noncriminals arrested by ICE in Illinois under the program. (link to report)
Timespan Dates: Timespan Title: Timespan Description:
05/03/2010 

to 05/05/2010

ICE attempts to make contact with Illinois State Police ICE attempts to make contact with Illinois State Police regarding activating Cook, without success. Secure Communities Regional Coordinator finds out that the matter is still under review.
06/02/2010 

to 06/06/2010

ICE prepares chronologies of its interactions with CCSO, claims that “they never expressed any opposition.” ICE prepares chronologies of its interactions with CCSO, claims that “The Cook County concern was the political dynamics of the community it serves as opposed to a lack of law enforcement interest. “Bottom line was Cook County was favorable toward the SC as a law enforcement tool and wanted to just maintain a public position of the ‘feds made us do it,’ while at the same time they were supportive of the initiative, they never expressed any opposition.” (page 4016)
09/01/2010 

to 11/30/2010

Eighteen additional Illinois counties are activated. Eighteen additional Illinois counties are activated.
07/21/2011 

to 07/22/2011

Cunningham exchanges email with ICE Chicago field office director Ricardo Wong. Cunningham exchanges email with ICE Chicago field office director Ricardo Wong. Cunningham states that he has learned that Cook had not been activated. Wong responds that Cunningham’s April 29 email was “not accepted as a full acknowledgement” by ISP, and offers to help CCSO and ISP “in crafting an acceptable written statement that both parties can accept.” (page 4342)

Local police struggle with immigration issues (Chicago Tribune)

Local police struggle with immigration issues
Law enforcement officials say their job is complicated by the volatile immigration issue
June 20, 2010|By Antonio Olivo, Tribune reporter

As they rode through Lake County’s immigrant neighborhoods serving arrest warrants, Sheriff’s Deputy John Van Dien and three fellow officers were repeatedly confronted by a public relations problem nagging local law enforcement agencies nationwide.

They weren’t hunting for illegal immigrants, but at nearly every stop, local residents seemed to think they were.

In Mundelein, neighbors watched the burly officers take a handcuffed Mexican immigrant away from his startled children in a scene that resembled thousands of family separations caused by immigration raids. But this was the case of a legal U.S. resident who had skipped court on drunken driving charges.

A few miles away, a Polish woman arrested for drug possession woefully admitted that her U.S. visa had expired, making her deportable and leaving the officers to wonder aloud about the fate of her three children.

And, near Diamond Lake, an elderly man tried to help the officers find a suspect sought for marijuana possession by noting, “There’s a Mexican down at the end of the block.”

A debate over how local law enforcement should deal with illegal immigration has heated up in the wake of a new Arizona law that allows police to check the status of people they stop if they suspect them of being illegal immigrants. In Lake County and other areas where immigrant communities have swelled, it is a question that street cops face every day.

“You’ve got to be so careful, because they’ll accuse you, (saying) ‘You’re just picking on me because I’m Hispanic,'” said Van Dien, 43, during a recent sweep of court-ordered arrests in Lake County that the Tribune was permitted to observe.

“No,” he objected, “we’re picking on you because you came into our country and broke the (local) laws. There’s a lot of people here illegally who we never see because they’re just working and living honest lives.”

Many local law enforcement officials complain that their work has been increasingly complicated by the volatile immigration issue, leading some of them to argue for offering legal status to the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally.

In a vacuum created by Congress’ inaction on immigration, the law enforcement officials say they’re fighting crime amid a patchwork of sometimes counterproductive local solutions, ranging from get-tough state laws like Arizona’s to “sanctuary” ordinances like Cook County’s that instruct authorities not to participate in immigration enforcement.

Prodded by calls to help in an escalating federal crackdown against illegal immigrants, many local agencies, such as the Lake County sheriff’s department, have begun routinely reporting the names of non-U.S. citizens who’ve been arrested for other crimes to U.S. Immigration  and Customs Enforcement. The extra effort adds to a web of local participation in immigration enforcement that includes federal authority for some police agencies to initiate deportation themselves.

At the same time, officials worry their involvement is getting in the way of other police work. The often time-consuming process of confirming whether a prisoner is an illegal immigrant eats into already strained local budgets and is complicated by the spread of fake IDs, which make it difficult to know who is who, law enforcement officials say. Meanwhile, they add, immigrant residents wary of being harassed or deported are unwilling to cooperate in investigations.

“We’re in this federal holding pattern … and it undermines the credibility of local law enforcement,” said Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, whose jurisdiction includes Waukegan. “It makes us look like we … have no interest in upholding the Constitution.”

In the past four years, Lake County has seen its foreign-born population jump by nearly 19 percent to about 13,000 residents. Curran estimates that 20 percent of his jail population is in the country illegally.

The former Democrat, who recently switched to Republican in his bid for re-election in November, has joined other law enforcement officials around the country in opposing laws like Arizona’s. For Curran, it’s part of a recent shift in his stance on immigration.

In 2007, he sought federal approval for his deputies to initiate deportation proceedings, but that was denied. Instead, Curran’s department began holding suspects after reporting their names to ICE.

This year, Curran began arguing that granting legal status to undocumented immigrants in the country would be the most pragmatic solution, both in terms of finding the right people to arrest and not overloading the jails.

“From a law enforcement perspective, I need to know who’s here,” he said.

His Democratic opponent, Douglas Roberts, who also disagrees with the Arizona law, accuses Curran of pandering to Latino voters.

In the communities where Curran’s deputies are working, winning over the immigrant community has been an uphill battle, made worse by a recent spate of incidents in the Chicago area in which three U.S. citizens say they were nearly deported by mistake.

In Lake County, a U.S. citizen born in Mexico was jailed for five days after U.S. marshal deputies mistakenly arrested him instead of an illegal immigrant with the same name, according to the man’s attorney and family. One U.S. citizen born in Puerto Rico was jailed for nearly a week in Cook County, even after his mother showed U.S. officials his birth certificate, his lawyer says. A Mexican-born U.S. citizen in McHenry County claims in a federal lawsuit filed last month that he was wrongly jailed overnight after showing his proof of citizenship.

Officials in the first two cases acknowledged the mistakes and said they released the men as soon as the errors were discovered. A McHenry County sheriff’s spokeswoman declined to comment.

In that climate, Van Dien and the other sheriff’s deputies pound on doors in some of the same neighborhoods where ICE officials recently arrested 72 illegal immigrants.

Driving an anonymous-looking minivan and an SUV through leafy cul-de-sac communities and lakeside trailer parks, the officers said they were not concerned about immigration status. But sometimes the topic becomes an obstacle to doing their job.

“You’ll have a (domestic violence) victim who refuses to press charges because they’re worried about the husband being deported, even though she’s got a black eye,” Sheriff’s Deputy Felix Pena said.

The officers worked from a stack of warrants that included immigrants and U.S. citizens from various ethnic backgrounds. The nearly 20 fugitives they sought had missed court appearances after being charged with crimes that included drunken driving, aggravated assault or marijuana possession.

Van Dien — who is 6 foot 4 and 370 pounds with a Bamm-Bamm tattoo on his forearm — cut an intimidating figure each time he got out of the van.

The native of North Chicago drove the van with a pouch of chewing tobacco in his cheek and an automatic rifle and sledgehammer within arm’s reach. He said he sees his job through the eyes of his 6-year-old daughter and through how much the region has changed since his boyhood.

Outside the Mundelein home of Ernesto C. Manjarrez, whom the officers found hiding under a bed, Van Dien appeared emotional as he recounted how the man’s crying preschool-age daughter had tugged on his arm in an effort to free her father.

“I looked at her and said: ‘Honey. Please,'” Van Dien said. “That poor little girl was freaking out.”

At the time, the officers believed that Manjarrez, who faced a felony drunken driving charge, was an illegal immigrant and that they had just split up a family.

But the Lake County sheriff’s office checked his identity with ICE, discovering Manjarrez is in the country legally. Though he was released two days later on bail, a felony conviction could still result in eventual deportation for legal U.S. residents.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Manjarrez told the Tribune, acknowledging before going to jail that potential problems lay ahead.

The officers’ hard-charging style sometimes puts off people in Lake County’s immigrant community, making them unwilling to cooperate in investigations, local activists say.

“Sheriff Curran came in here once and said he’s trying to do the best possible (to improve relations with Latino immigrants,)” noted Jose Luis Zavala, a Waukegan restaurant owner who heads a local immigrant civil rights group. “But, many times, they’re helping to deport Hispanics.”

That notion chilled nearly every conversation the officers had with the immigrant relatives or neighbors of the fugitives they sought, with some responding in terse one-word answers.

During one nighttime search inside a Diamond Lake area trailer-park village for an alleged drunken driver, a neighbor walking with his young daughter froze nervously as police flashlights sliced across his face.

When it seemed obvious the Spanish-speaking man knew nothing about his neighbor, some of the officers thanked him and left. Van Dien, seeing an opportunity, got out of his van and ordered the man, half his size, to follow him to the rear.

Opening the door, Van Dien dug into a plastic bag and pulled out a stuffed purple “Barney” dinosaur, handing it to the man’s smiling daughter.

“Thank you,” her beaming father said in English.

“You’re welcome,” Van Dien replied before driving off to search for another fugitive.