WBEZ | DUI http://www.wbez.org/tags/dui Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sheriff mulls freeing inmates wanted on immigration charges http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090908_tarnold_9361_Sher_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>On any given day, the Cook County Jail holds hundreds of inmates picked up on criminal charges who also happen to be wanted for an immigration violation. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office keeps them up to 48 hours beyond when the criminal cases would allow them out. That’s to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE, to take them into deportation proceedings. Now Dart tells WBEZ he’s reconsidering that policy because it could be compromising public safety. We report from our West Side bureau.</p><p><br> SOUND: Keys open a jail door.<br> <br> Beneath the Cook County criminal courthouse, one jailer pulls out keys and unlocks a door. Another, Officer Carmelo Santiago, leads the way.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: We’re going through this tunnel that connects us from the courthouse to the jail. This way is where the detainee is going to be coming.<br> <br> We step around crusts of sandwiches that the day’s new arrivals got for lunch.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: And this is the receiving process.<br> <br> SOUND: Entering the receiving area.<br> <br> The smell of unwashed feet wafts from chain-link pens full of inmates who’re waiting to be processed. Santiago shows me the paperwork of a Mexican national busted last night in Chicago.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This individual was arrested for driving on a revoked or suspended license on a DUI.<br> <br> A lot of immigrants who drink and drive end up in this jail. That’s because Illinois considers DUI a felony when the motorist lacks a valid driver’s license. And the state doesn’t allow any undocumented immigrant to get one.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: He was issued a bond from the court for $15,000.<br> <br> Santiago points out that the defendant could walk free for just $1,500. Except, his file shows something else.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This specific individual has a detainer that was placed on him through immigration.<br> <br> MITCHELL: This man can post bond or not [and] he’s going to end up in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement?<br> <br> SANTIAGO: That is correct.<br> <br> Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says he doesn’t like holding on to inmates like this one for ICE to take away. He says these holds make it harder for local police to fight crime. Residents see cops and start thinking about the threat of deportation — the threat to the criminals, maybe even to themselves.<br> <br> DART: It does not lend itself to a sense of community where people will gladly come to you with information about crimes, get involved as a witness, even come forward as a victim, frankly.<br> <br> Over the years Dart has taken steps to reduce the jail’s role in immigration enforcement. The sheriff’s office says it no longer calls ICE with information about inmates. The sheriff no longer allows ICE agents in holding cells near bond courtrooms. The jail has put up big signs — in English, Spanish and Polish — that tell new inmates they have no obligation to answer questions about immigration status. But Dart says something has him in a bind. Every day ICE requests that the jail hold certain inmates two extra days so the agency can put the detainees into deportation proceedings. The jail ends up turning over about a half-dozen inmates to ICE each day. Two years ago, Dart quietly sought some legal advice from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office.<br> <br> DART: The opinion was really unambiguous. It said I had to comply with the detainer. So, when the detainer was placed on somebody, I had to give the ICE officers 48 hours to come and pick somebody up and that it was not in my discretion.<br> <br> MITCHELL: Could you ignore the state’s attorney’s opinion?<br> <br> DART: Then I open myself up personally to civil liability.<br> <br> Dart says that could include damages for someone hurt by a released inmate or the legal defense if an anti-immigrant group filed suit . . .<br> <br> DART: . . . which is not something that myself or my five children signed up to do. And I open our office up to unbelievable amounts of liability.<br> <br> But some immigrant advocates are pressing Dart about the ICE detainers. They confronted a few of his top aides at a meeting a few weeks ago. Reverend Walter Coleman got to question a sheriff’s attorney, Patricia Horne.<br> <br> HORNE: It’s a legal document just like an arrest warrant, which we, under law, have to recognize.<br> <br> COLEMAN: Under what law?<br> <br> HORNE: Well, in this case, under federal law.<br> <br> COLEMAN: There is no federal law. You cannot cite me the statute or the chapter or the section. You know that that’s the truth and we will not sit here and be lied to like this.<br> <br> It turns out ICE isn’t citing a statute either. Lately federal officials have acknowledged that local jails don’t have to comply with immigration detainer requests. Last month the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department quit honoring the requests for certain inmates. Here in Cook County, Sheriff Dart says that’s got him wondering again whether he has to comply with the 48-hour holds. He tells me he’s planning to ask the State’s Attorney’s Office for an updated opinion. He could do that quietly again and most people wouldn’t even know. But Dart doesn’t always operate quietly. You might remember that, twice over the last three years, the sheriff has ordered his deputies to suspend enforcement of foreclosure evictions.<br> <br> MITCHELL: You run one of the country’s biggest jails. Would you really be willing to become a national lightening rod on the issue of immigration enforcement?<br> <br> DART: Well, there is this notion of justice that we’ve always felt very strongly about in this office. And whether it’s dealing with people who we felt were being dispossessed of their houses in the mortgage crisis. So we stopped. It’s the same issue here, where we are attempting to do what is right and just.<br> <br> But Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore has a warning for any sheriff who lets inmates walk free despite an immigration hold.<br> <br> PALMORE: Though ICE has not sought to compel compliance through legal proceedings, jurisdictions who ignore detainers bear the risk of allowing that individual back into the public domain before they were thoroughly vetted to insure that this individual doesn’t have anything outstanding that warrants us to move further in that particular case.<br> <br> Sheriff Dart acknowledges there could be a downside to ignoring immigration detainer requests. Let’s say ICE knows the inmate arrived in the country under an alias or is violent — and the information didn’t appear in the jail’s background check. But Dart says letting some immigrants out of jail even though ICE wants them could be worth the risk. It might help remove the deportation issue from everyday policing. The sheriff says that could make streets in Cook County safer.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 23:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 Chandler unseats Dixon, recaptures 24th Ward seat http://www.wbez.org/story/24th-ward/chandler-unseats-dixon-recaptures-24th-ward-seat-84809 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-06/Chandler1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A former longtime Chicago alderman has recaptured his old seat. Michael Chandler won about 60 percent of Tuesday’s 24th Ward runoff vote. He’ll replace Ald. Sharon Denise Dixon, who finished with about 40 percent.<br> <br> Chandler celebrated in the city’s North Lawndale neighborhood. “I’m stronger, I’m a little wiser, smarter, and I’m ready to work harder,” he told WBEZ. “We’re going to fight like hell here to get as much money as we can to our community. The West Side has been overlooked and we’re going to fight to get dollars here.”<br> <br> The contest was a rematch of a runoff four years ago, when Dixon unseated Chandler, who had held the office for 12 years.<br> <br> This time, the two emerged from a field of 18 candidates on the February 22 ballot. Dixon accused Chandler of packing that contest with straw candidates to improve chances of a runoff — a charge he denied.<br> <br> The council voting records of Dixon and Chandler show neither crossing Mayor Richard Daley often. In this year’s campaign, citywide issues took a backseat to the ward’s public services, its economic development and the candidates’ accessibility.<br> <br> Dixon’s campaign suffered due to a 2009 run-in with Chicago police officers, who arrested her on suspicion of drunken driving. Charges were dismissed after a judge ruled there was no probable cause. Dixon is suing three of the cops.</p></p> Wed, 06 Apr 2011 08:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/24th-ward/chandler-unseats-dixon-recaptures-24th-ward-seat-84809 Sheriff’s office helps immigration agents http://www.wbez.org/story/news/immigration/sheriff%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2s-office-helps-immigration-agents <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090414_cmitchell_916539_Sher_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Dozens of U.S. municipalities have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. A Cook County declaration bans the Sheriff's Office from assisting with an investigation of someone's immigration status. The stated goals are to build trust in local law enforcement and encourage immigrants to help fight domestic violence, drug trafficking and even terrorism. But almost two years since the sanctuary declaration passed, immigration agents are still getting assistance from the Sheriff's Office. Last year alone, according to the office, immigration officials took some 250 county inmates into custody.<br> <br> SOUND: Office</p><p>In Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, attorney Salvador Cícero is having what he calls a routine morning. On the other side of his desk sits a 40-year-old homemaker. She wants help getting her husband out of jail</p><p>WIFE: Mi niño más chiquito pregunta, ‘Cuando va a llegar mi papi?'</p><p>She says their 10-year-old is asking for his daddy. Cícero picks up the phone to get answers from the Cook County Sheriff's Office.</p><p>CÍCERO: Lieutenant, how are you? I'm looking into the case of Miguel García. We wanted to make sure that he had been released. He paid his bail last Wednesday.</p><p>Police stopped García for allegedly driving under the influence. That charge turned into a felony because, like many undocumented immigrants, García couldn't provide a valid driver's license. García landed in a holding area of the courthouse on 26th and California.</p><p>Soon after his arrival, the Sheriff's Office began helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency known as ICE. The assistance seems at odds with the county's sanctuary declaration. First, the sheriff allowed ICE to interview García — even though, according to ICE, no federal statute requires that access.</p><p>Like many other inmates, García hadn't had a chance to speak with an attorney yet.</p><p>WHITE: Sometimes we're not sure if they even know who the ICE agents are.</p><p>Deborah White heads the Cook County Public Defender's felony trial division.</p><p>WHITE: And they give incriminating information to these agents.</p><p>As García prepared to post bond in his criminal case, ICE put a hold on him because he's an illegal alien. Then the Sheriff's Office helped the immigration agency again. The office kept García for ICE for more than two business days after he posted the bond. The federal government prohibits this.</p><p>Here's Salvador Cícero, the attorney, on the phone with the Sheriff's Office again.</p><p>CÍCERO: It has been past the 48 hours. So I would like this guy released. Can I follow up with you maybe in an hour? Thank you, Lieutenant. Bye.<br> MITCHELL: How often does this happen?<br> CÍCERO: Well, the reality is we've been seeing it two or three times a month, sometimes.</p><p>In a statement, Sheriff Tom Dart's Office says it never knowingly holds inmates for ICE beyond the 48 hours. And once inmates are in the jail next to the courthouse, the Sheriff's Office says it doesn't let ICE speak to them. Asked who's letting ICE interview inmates before their bond hearing, Dart's office says it's the jurisdiction of the State's Attorney and the Circuit Court chief judge.</p><p>Those officials respond that only the sheriff controls the courthouse's holding cells.</p><p>One man who's not happy with the way things are working at 26th and California is Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado. He pushed the sanctuary declaration through the county board in 2007.</p><p>MALDONADO: None of the independent elected officials, like the state's attorney or the sheriff, none of them has gone to the courts to challenge our ordinance and say, ‘We are exempt.' Right now all of them, all those constitutional officers, must abide by the ordinance.</p><p>When it came to Miguel García's case, attorney Salvador Cícero says the Sheriff's Office didn't abide by the sanctuary measure.</p><p>But the county's independent inspector general, Patrick Blanchard, says his office hasn't received any complaints alleging sanctuary violations.</p><p>SOUND: Office.</p><p>In his Pilsen office, Cícero breaks some bad news to García's wife.</p><p>CÍCERO: Me pude comunicar con la teniente Johnson, que me confirmó que sí lo recogieron esta mañana.</p><p>He says the Sheriff's Office has handed over her husband to ICE.</p><p>WIFE: Aquí tengo mi casa pero si me esposo no está no voy a poder pagarla....</p><p>Garcia's wife says she won't be able to afford their house without him. And she worries about their two youngest. They're U.S. citizens.</p><p>García will now likely face deportation. And plenty of people believe he should, because he entered the country illegally. But Commissioner Maldonado says he'll keep fighting to sever links between the Sheriff's Office and federal immigration officials.</p></p> Tue, 14 Apr 2009 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/immigration/sheriff%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2s-office-helps-immigration-agents