Local law enforcement struggles with unclear reach of federal immigration policies

July 28, 2011

Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

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(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Detainees are held in an Orange County, Calif. jail but Cook County Sherriff Tom Dart may stop detaining illegal immigrants.

Cook County moved to center stage in the fight over national immigration policy. Sheriff Tom Dart recently suggested that he may no longer comply with federal requests to detain inmates wanted for immigration violations. Then, earlier this week, County Commissioner Jesus Garcia proposed an ordinance that would write noncompliance into an actual ordinance. At a meeting Wednesday, Garcia withdrew his proposal. The moves came as many states and local governments took stands on immigration policy.

So are there some jurisdictional loopholes? And how much room do Chicago and Illinois have to define immigration policy?

For answers, Eight Forty-Eight turned to Anna Law, an associate professor of political science at DePaul University who writes on immigration law.