Suburban mayor criticizes Cook County immigration policy

September 26, 2011

A Northwest suburban mayor is criticizing a new Cook County policy for being weak on illegal immigration.

On September 7, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved a measure that allows the sheriff to release undocumented immigrants on bond from jail. The federal government asks local jails to hold undocumented immigrants that are accused of a crime, until immigration agents can detain them, and possibly deport them.

Hanover Park mayor Rod Craig argues that policy puts criminals back on the street.

"Some are born in this county, some aspire to become citizens, and some just want to come here and create mayhem, and I'm not going to stand for that," said Craig. "And we need the support of our county government to come to some clarity on what it is they really want."

Sheriff Tom Dart has said he doesn't like detaining undocumented immigrants in jail until the federal government can pick them up, because it makes it harder for local police to fight crime. Craig has written letters to both Dart and the Cook County board asking them to reform these immigration policies. He's worried about a repeat of an incident that occurred a few months back, when a group of suspected illegal immigrants accused of assaulting police officers were released from jail without being detained because an immigration agent couldn't come in time.

But Steve Patterson, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, sees the situation differently.

"I just think it's a case where the mayor doesn't understand what happened, that's all," he said.

According to Patterson, the sheriff's office released 1,665 detainees into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last year.

Craig said he's spoken to his Hanover Park's local Cook County commissioner Tim Schneider about a potential resolution to amend the ordinance. According to Craig, Schneider was optimistic about working out a new solution.