WBEZ | Chris Newman http://www.wbez.org/tags/chris-newman Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cook County Board could vote on freeing inmates wanted by immigration authorities http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-commissioners-could-vote-next-week-releasing-some-jailed-immigrants-91496 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-03/Toni Preckwinkle.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County commissioners on Wednesday could take center stage in the nation’s immigration debate if they enact a proposal that would begin freeing some jail inmates wanted by federal authorities.</p><p>The measure requires the sheriff to decline Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests known as detainers “unless there is a written agreement with the federal government by which all costs incurred” by the county are reimbursed.</p><p>County Board Commissioner Jesús García, D-Chicago, introduced a similar proposal in July but quickly withdrew it, saying it needed rethinking. García has refined the measure and picked up nine other sponsors, including Board President Toni Preckwinkle.</p><p>The inmates remain in the county’s massive jail up to 48 hours beyond what their criminal cases require. ICE detainers enabled the federal agency to take custody of 1,665 of the jail’s inmates in 2010, according to Sheriff Tom Dart.</p><p>Dart’s office says complying with the detainers last year cost roughly $250,000.</p><p>An ICE statement calls the detainers “critical” for deporting “criminal aliens and others who have no legal right to remain in the United States.”</p><p>But García says the holds enable ICE to sweep up too many immigrants who pose little or no risk to public safety. “These people have been cleared of charges or have posted bond,” he says.</p><p>García says the detainers also cost taxpayers too much and spread fear of local police — claims disputed by pro-enforcement groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform.</p><p>ICE didn’t immediately comment on the revamped proposal but sent a statement warning that “jurisdictions that ignore detainers bear the risk of possible public safety risks.”</p><p>The federal government does not reimburse any local jurisdiction in the country for costs associated with the immigration detainers, according to ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro.</p><p>Commissioners could approve the proposal at their meeting Wednesday morning. It would take effect “immediately upon adoption,” the measure says.</p><p>“As far as I know, Cook County would be the first local jurisdiction in the country to quit complying with ICE detainer requests,” says Chris Newman, legal director of the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a group that leads opposition to the holds.</p><p>The proposal comes as a class-action suit in federal court challenges use of the detainers. Filed by the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center, the suit charges that asking local police to detain immigrants when there is no evidence of illegal activity is unconstitutional.<br> &nbsp;</p><p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated what Sheriff Tom Dart’s office estimates that its ICE detainer compliance costs the county. A sheriff’s spokesman says the cost last year was roughly $250,000.</em></p></p> Fri, 02 Sep 2011 23:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-commissioners-could-vote-next-week-releasing-some-jailed-immigrants-91496 Bill would free Cook County inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/bill-would-free-cook-county-inmates-wanted-ice-89634 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-26/cook-County-Jail-2_Flickr_Zol87.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Cook County commissioner is quietly proposing an ordinance that would require the county’s massive jail to release some inmates wanted by immigration authorities.</p><p>Sponsored by Jesús García, D-Chicago, the measure would prohibit the jail from holding inmates based on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement request unless they have been convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors, and unless the county gets reimbursed.</p><p>The legislation’s preamble says complying with the ICE requests, known as detainers, “places a great strain on our communities by eroding the public trust that local law enforcement depends on to secure the accurate reporting of criminal activity and to prevent and solve crimes.”</p><p>The jail now holds detainees requested by ICE for up to 48 hours after their criminal cases would allow them to walk free. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office says the jail turns over about a half dozen inmates to the federal agency each business day.</p><p>Dart this month <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233">told WBEZ his staff was exploring legal options</a> for releasing some of these inmates. The sheriff said his review began after he noticed that San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey had ordered his department to quit honoring certain ICE detainers beginning June 1.</p><p>If Dart’s office follows Hennessey’s path or if García’s legislation wins approval, Cook County could become the nation’s largest local jurisdiction to halt blanket compliance with ICE holds.</p><p>“Cook County would be a counter pole to Arizona’s Maricopa County,” says Chris Newman, general counsel of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a Los Angeles-based group that opposes involving local authorities in immigration enforcement.</p><p>García’s office didn’t return WBEZ calls or messages about his legislation. The offices of Sheriff Dart and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said they had seen the bill but declined to say whether they supported it.</p><p>A spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said late Tuesday her office had not been consulted about García’s proposal. A 2009 letter from Alvarez to Dart’s office said federal law required the sheriff to comply with “any ICE detainers.”</p><p>In recent months, however, immigration authorities have acknowledged that local jails do not have to comply with the detainers.</p><p>ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa, asked for comment about García’s legislation, sent a statement calling the detainers “critical” for deporting “criminal aliens and others who have no legal right to remain in the United States.”</p><p>“Individuals arrested for misdemeanors may ultimately be identified as recidivist offenders with multiple prior arrests, in addition to being in violation of U.S. immigration law,” the ICE statement said. “These individuals may have been deported before or have outstanding orders of removal.” Jurisdictions that ignore immigration detainers would be responsible for “possible public safety risks,” the statement added.</p><p>García’s proposal is on the county board’s agenda for Wednesday morning. Possible steps by commissioners include referring the measure to committee or approving it immediately.</p></p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/bill-would-free-cook-county-inmates-wanted-ice-89634