WBEZ | immigration detainers http://www.wbez.org/tags/immigration-detainers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en ICE detainers a public-safety issue? http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Napolitano.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 280px; height: 303px;" title="In April 25 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano calls a Cook County policy of disregarding the detainers ‘terribly misguided.’ (AP/Susan Walsh)" /></div><p><em>More than eight months since it passed, an ordinance that ended Cook County Jail compliance with immigration detainers keeps causing sparks. The detainers </em>&mdash; <em>requests that the jail hold inmates up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require </em>&mdash; <em>help federal officials put the inmates into deportation proceedings. Sheriff Tom Dart and some county commissioners are pressing for the ordinance to be scaled back. So is President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration. They all say their motive is to keep dangerous criminals locked up. Yet officials offer no evidence whether inmates freed by the ordinance endanger the public more than other former inmates do. A WBEZ investigation sheds the first light.</em></p><p>The ordinance cut ties between the jail and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency known as ICE. It passed last September. County Commissioner Tim Schneider offered a prediction.</p><p>SCHNEIDER: Under this ordinance, gang bangers, people involved in drug dealing, sex trafficking and criminal sexual assault will be released back into our communities that with these ICE detainers would be held and would be deported. This is clearly our Willie Horton moment here in Cook County.</p><p>Horton was a Massachusetts felon let out of prison on a weekend furlough in 1986. He did not come back and committed violent crimes that haunted Governor Michael Dukakis in his presidential campaign. Cook County may not have anyone like Horton on its hands. But within four months of the ordinance&rsquo;s approval, news outlets had seized on someone else.</p><p>TV REPORTER: . . . when it was revealed that this man, Saúl Chávez, an alleged hit-and-run driver, had bonded out . . .</p><p>Saúl Chávez &mdash; that&rsquo;s the pronunciation &mdash; was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. ICE slapped a detainer on him but the ordinance required the jail to disregard it. When he posted bond, the jail let him out. Then Chávez missed his court dates and disappeared.</p><p>DART: . . . Thank you very much, Commissioner. Thank you for having me here. . . .</p><p>At a February hearing, Sheriff Tom Dart told county commissioners about other inmates he&rsquo;d freed.</p><p>DART: Since September 7, the jail has released 346 individuals &mdash; who had detainers on them &mdash; that prior to September 7 would have been detained on the hold.</p><p>Dart said 11 of those 346 had committed new offenses. ICE, meanwhile, pointed to the Chávez case and, like Dart, claimed the ordinance undermined public safety in the county. Last month U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified at a Senate hearing.</p><p>NAPOLITANO: Cook County&rsquo;s ordinance is terribly misguided and is a public-safety issue. We&rsquo;re evaluating a lot of options . . .</p><p>All this talk about public safety had me scratching my head. Just how dangerous are these people? Are they more dangerous than former jail inmates that ICE has not named on detainers? I looked for studies comparing the two groups. I checked with policy experts and criminologists . . . the sheriff&rsquo;s office, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, ICE, the U.S. Department of Justice . . .</p><p>BECK: I&rsquo;m not aware that any research has been conducted on this.</p><p>This is Allen Beck. He&rsquo;s a top DOJ statistician. I show him the figures Sheriff Dart brought to that hearing. Some simple math shows that about 3 percent of the inmates the jail freed in disregard of immigration detainers had committed new offenses.<a href="#1"><sup>[1]</sup></a></p><p>BECK: That&rsquo;s correct.</p><p>The sheriff&rsquo;s office told me it couldn&rsquo;t come up with the rearrest rate for all the other inmates the jail released during those five months.<sup><a href="#2">[2]</a></sup> The office did provide numbers for Cook County defendants on electronic monitoring.<sup><a href="#3">[3]</a></sup> And I checked into a Loyola University study about felons discharged from Illinois probation.<a href="#4"><sup>[4]</sup></a> The rearrest rate for both groups is about the same as for the detainer group.</p><p>BECK: Right.</p><p>Beck tells me about something else.</p><p>BECK: You know, we have tracked felony defendants in large state courts for some time. We have statistics related to Cook County. We certainly have been able to determine a substantial failure rate.</p><p>Beck shows me what he means by failure. In the DOJ&rsquo;s most recent look at Cook County felony defendants, about 25 percent of those who got out of jail with charges pending committed new crimes before their case was over.<sup><a href="#5">[5]</a></sup></p><p>MITCHELL: Mr. Beck, given the evidence available, what can we say about the former inmates wanted by ICE?</p><p>BECK: Well, there clearly isn&rsquo;t any data here to suggest that this group had a higher rate of failure &mdash; that is, of a re-arrest &mdash; than other groups that the Cook County sheriff may be dealing with. In fact, I think the evidence would suggest that these rates are lower.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s another question about Cook County&rsquo;s policy of disregarding immigration detainers: Are the inmates who bond out more likely to skip their court dates and go missing, like Saúl Chávez did? In the county&rsquo;s court records, you can see a defendant has failed to appear when the judge revokes bail and orders arrest. The arrest order&rsquo;s known as a bond-forfeiture warrant.</p><p>MITCHELL: So, Mr. Beck, of the inmates our jail released despite immigration detainers, we pulled court records on all but one of those who were charged with a felony and who got out by posting bond.<a href="#6"><sup>[6]</sup></a></p><p>BECK: . . . couldn&rsquo;t find one.</p><p>MITCHELL: Right.</p><p>BECK: Right.</p><p>MITCHELL: And of those, about 12 percent were named on bond-forfeiture warrants during the five months.</p><p>BECK: About 12 percent.</p><p>For perspective, I rounded up some WBEZ volunteers to help check this figure against other felony defendants freed on bond over the five months. We came up with a representative sample.<a href="#7"><sup>[7]</sup></a> Judges ordered bond-forfeiture warrants for about 14 percent of our sample during the period. Then I got some figures from the sheriff and the court clerk.<a href="#8"><sup>[8]</sup></a> They show roughly how many bond-forfeiture warrants named any felony defendant who got out on bail during those five months.</p><p>BECK: So basically what you&rsquo;re saying is that about 15 percent &mdash; what is that, one in six?</p><p>MITCHELL: Yeah, very close to the rate of the inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. Mr. Beck, your study &mdash; the one by&nbsp;the U.S. Department of Justice&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;also includes figures for how many Cook County felony defendants failed to appear in court.<a href="#9"><sup>[9]</sup></a></p><p>BECK: We found 21 percent.</p><p>MITCHELL: Now, Mr. Beck, whether we&rsquo;re looking at the rearrests or the bail jumping, all our comparisons include some apples-to-oranges issues.</p><p>BECK: That&rsquo;s right but we&rsquo;re looking at numbers that certainly do not lead to a conclusion that this group released in disregard to the ICE detainers would pose a greater risk upon their release than others.</p><p>If that&rsquo;s the case, I wondered what all those officials meant when they said the Cook County ordinance undermines public safety. Sheriff Dart&rsquo;s office and the Department of Homeland Security haven&rsquo;t granted my requests to speak with them about this. An ICE spokeswoman says her agency won&rsquo;t talk about this on tape and says ICE never claimed that the former jail inmates it named on detainers were committing more crimes or jumping bail more than other former jail inmates. The lack of evidence did not stop the officials from pressing for the ordinance to be scaled back. Tim Schneider &mdash; he&rsquo;s the County Board commissioner who invoked Willie Horton &mdash; he proposed an amendment that would require compliance with the ICE detainers for inmates who appear on a federal terrorist list or face a serious felony charge. I ask Schneider whether his push has anything to do with age-old fears about immigrants threatening public safety.</p><p>MITCHELL: When you talk about Willie Horton in the context of the September ordinance and when you talk about Saúl Chávez &mdash; our research suggested he&rsquo;s not typical &mdash; are you stoking those fears?</p><p>SCHNEIDER: Absolutely not.</p><p>He goes on.</p><p>SCHNEIDER: If these people could be held pursuant to ICE detainers, then that&rsquo;s one less person that would flee justice. In the case of Saúl Chávez, he is out loose because we&rsquo;re not complying with ICE detainers.</p><p>YOUNG: No one wants to be seen as endangering public safety.</p><p>Attorney Malcolm Young directs an inmate-reentry program at Northwestern University.</p><p>YOUNG: The claim of public safety is a good one to make any time you want to advance one or another criminal-justice policy. Here I think it&rsquo;s incumbent on someone who&rsquo;s making that argument to show why it is that the release of someone who is the subject of an ICE detainer puts the community at risk or creates a risk that that person is not going to show up in court.</p><p>Otherwise, Young says, the Cook County Jail may as well keep all inmates beyond what their criminal cases require &mdash; not just those wanted by immigration authorities.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Notes</span></strong></p><p><a name="1">1. </a>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told county commissioners at a February 9 hearing that his office had freed 346 inmates in disregard of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers since September 7, when the County Board enacted &ldquo;Policy for responding to ICE detainers&rdquo; (Ordinance 11-O-73). Of the 346, according to Dart, 11 committed new offenses during the five months. That means 3.2 percent had reoffended. The flow of the releases over the five months was steady, so the individuals averaged about 75 days (half of the five months) in which they could have been arrested on new charges. That makes the per-day rearrest rate roughly 0.04 percent.</p><p><a name="2">2. </a>The sheriff&rsquo;s office says the jail released 30,549 inmates between September 7 and February 6. But the office says it could not quickly find out how many had committed new offenses during that period because that tally would require investigating the cases one-by-one.</p><p><a name="3">3. </a>The sheriff&rsquo;s office says Cook County Circuit Court judges ordered 2,700 individuals into the sheriff&rsquo;s electronic-monitoring program between September 7 and February 6. Of those, according to the sheriff&rsquo;s office, 53 were arrested for a new crime while in the program during that period. That means about 2.0 percent had committed a new crime &mdash; close to the 3.2 percent for the inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. Among shortcomings with this comparison is that the electronic-monitoring group did not include individuals released from jail after a not-guilty ruling, individuals who had served their sentences, individuals for whom all charges were dismissed and so on.</p><p><a name="4">4. </a>Loyola University Chicago <a href="http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=248832">researchers studied 1,578 felons</a> discharged in November 2000 from Illinois probation. Within two months of their discharge, 3 percent had been rearrested for a new crime, according David Olson, an author of the study. That&rsquo;s about 0.05 percent per day &mdash; close to the 0.04 percent rate for the inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. Shortcomings with this comparison include penal and policing changes since the probation discharges, the presence of 740 non-Cook County individuals in the probation group, and that group&rsquo;s lack of misdemeanants, pretrial defendants, individuals whose charges were dropped, individuals found not guilty, individuals who completed sentences other than probation and so on.</p><p><a name="5">5. </a>The most recent U.S. Department of Justice <a href="http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/fdluc06.pdf">study that covers rearrests</a> of former Cook County Jail inmates looks at 716 defendants who were charged in May 2006 with a felony and freed from the jail before trial. About 25 percent were rearrested again in Illinois on a new charge before their case&rsquo;s disposition. Assuming the median time between their first arrest and their adjudication was 92 days, the per-day rearrest rate was roughly 0.27 percent &mdash; much higher than the 0.04 percent rate for the inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. A shortcoming with this comparison is the DOJ study&rsquo;s lack of misdemeanants and of individuals released because their sentence was served or their charges were dropped. Another shortcoming is that the median time, 92 days, refers to all counties in the DOJ study. The figure for Cook County alone was not available.</p><p><a name="6">6. </a>The sheriff&rsquo;s office provided a listing of individuals the jail released between September 7 and February 6 in disregard of ICE detainers. WBEZ focused on flight risk by examining a subset &mdash; the 133 felony defendants who got out of jail by posting bond. Court records on one of those defendants could not be found, reducing the number to 132. Judges named 16 of the 132, or 12.1 percent, on bond-forfeiture warrants (BFWs) during that five-month period, according to a WBEZ review of the records. The flow of the releases over the period was steady, so the individuals averaged about 75 days (half of the five months) in which they could have been named on a BFW. That makes the per-day rate roughly 0.16 percent. But there&rsquo;s a caveat: It&rsquo;s possible that some of the 16 defendants who failed to appear in court were missing because ICE had detained or deported them. A January 4 letter from ICE Director John Morton says his agency had arrested 15 individuals that the jail had released since September 7 in disregard of ICE detainers. We asked ICE to identify the 15 but the agency pointed to a privacy policy and declined. We also asked ICE whether it notifies the Cook County Circuit Court after taking into custody someone with a pending criminal case in that court, whose judges order the BFWs. ICE didn&rsquo;t answer that question but said it informs local law-enforcement agencies and the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office.</p><p><a name="7">7. </a>WBEZ generated a 133-member sample of felony defendants freed on bond between September 7 and February 6. Of those, 18, or 13.5 percent, were named on a BFW during that period, according to a WBEZ review of their court records. That rate is close to the 12.1 percent for inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. A shortcoming of this comparison concerns the degree to which the sample is representative. Randomness was impossible due to limits on public access to records kept by the sheriff and the Clerk of the Circuit Court and due to a lack of data integration between the two offices. An example of the shortcoming is that WBEZ had to identify the felony cases by finding clerk-assigned case numbers with digits showing the case&rsquo;s transfer to the court system&rsquo;s criminal division, which handles felonies only. But some felony cases never reach that division and, thus, are never assigned a case number with those digits.</p><p><a name="8">8. </a>Figures from the sheriff&rsquo;s office suggest that roughly 8,000 felony defendants got out of jail between September 7 and February 6 by posting bond. Figures from the clerk&rsquo;s office suggest that judges ordered 1,247 BFWs in felony cases during that period. The BFWs cover roughly 15.6 percent of the defendants, assuming just one BFW per defendant. The rate is higher than the 12.1 percent for inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. A shortcoming with this comparison is that the &ldquo;roughly 8,000&rdquo; figure refers to a 7,785-9,089 range provided by the sheriff&rsquo;s office, which says it can&rsquo;t quickly determine the felony/misdemeanor status of 1,304 cases. Another shortcoming is that the clerk&rsquo;s office does not track when defendants were released from jail. The 1,247 figure, therefore, pertains to the five-month period but not the 8,000 defendants per se.</p><p><a name="9">9. </a>In the DOJ study, judges named 21 percent of the defendants on a warrant for failure to appear in court. Given the median 92 days from arrest to adjudication, 0.23 percent per day got such a warrant. That rate is higher than the 0.16 percent for inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. A shortcoming with this comparison is that the detainer group includes just those who posted bond. The DOJ group includes additional pretrial-defendant types, such as those released on personal recognizance. Another shortcoming is that the median time, 92 days, refers to all counties in the DOJ study. The figure for Cook County alone was not available.</p><p><em>Research assistance from Brian Mitchell, Christopher Newman, Joan Rothenberg and Sauming Seto. Editing by Shawn Allee.</em></p></p> Wed, 16 May 2012 11:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190 Sheriff decries immigration detainer ordinance http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-decries-immigration-detainer-ordinance-96260 <p><p><img alt="The Cook County Board is mulling proposed changes to the measure. (WBEZ/File)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-09/CountyBoardscaled.JPG" style="margin: 6px 18px 5px 12px; float: right; width: 349px; height: 244px;" title="The Cook County Board is mulling proposed amendments to a measure that frees some jail inmates wanted by ICE. (WBEZ/File)">Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says he wants changes to an ordinance that frees some jail inmates wanted by immigration authorities. But the law’s supporters say they still have the votes to keep it intact.</p><p>The ordinance, approved last September, prohibits the sheriff from complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. Those are requests that the county hold specified inmates up to two business days longer than their criminal cases require. The detainers gave ICE extra time to pick up the inmates for possible deportation.</p><p>The ordinance has come under fire as news outlets have focused on a convicted felon who completed his probation before going to jail on charges of killing a man in a Northwest Side hit-and-run incident last year. ICE named the inmate on a detainer. After the ordinance passed, he posted bond, walked free and went missing.</p><p>On Thursday, a County Board committee held a four-hour hearing on proposals to honor the detainers for inmates who are potentially dangerous. At the hearing, Dart said the jail had released 346 inmates named on ICE detainers since the ordinance passed. He said 11 of those ended up arrested again on a variety of charges.</p><p>Dart also voiced support for one of those proposals, an amendment introduced last month by Timothy Schneider (R-Bartlett) that would require compliance with the detainers for inmates who appeared on a federal terrorist list or who faced various felony charges. Dart said Schneider’s proposal would target inmates who “have shown that they’re a danger.” Dart criticized another proposal, an amendment filed by Peter Silvestri (R-Elmwood Park) and John Daley (D-Chicago), that would give the sheriff discretion to honor detainers.</p><p>Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who chairs the committee, told WBEZ he opposes both amendments and said neither has enough support to pass. But Suffredin, who voted for the ordinance, said he is open to “cleaning it up to give the sheriff clearer discretion” on whether to honor detainers. Suffredin said any committee votes on amending the ordinance would be next month.</p><p>County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, interviewed by WBEZ during the hearing, pointed out that many citizens get out of jail and cause trouble, too.</p><p>“People who are accused of very serious crimes are given bail every day because a judge makes a determination that they’re not a flight risk and they’re not a danger to our community,” she said. “So if you have a concern about people who are accused of serious crimes being released back into our community, it’s got to be broader concern than the two or three percent of them who are undocumented.”</p><p>Preckwinkle talked up a study that’s looking for ways to improve the bond system. The county’s five-member Judicial Advisory Council is carrying out the study and planning to make recommendations within six months.</p><p>The ordinance, sponsored by Commissioner Jesús García (D-Chicago), prohibits the jail from honoring the detainers unless the federal government agrees in advance to pay for the extended confinement — something ICE says it doesn’t do. The law’s supporters say the detainers eroded community trust in local police and violated inmates’ due-process rights. A federal court ruling in Indiana last summer called compliance with the detainers “voluntary.”</p></p> Fri, 10 Feb 2012 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-decries-immigration-detainer-ordinance-96260 Commissioners take aim at immigration ordinance http://www.wbez.org/story/commissioners-take-aim-county-immigration-law-95607 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-18/Schneider.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-18/Schneider.JPG" style="margin: 9px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 264px; height: 276px;" title="Timothy Schneider, R-Bartlett, authored one of the proposals. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">A debate about a Cook County ordinance that frees some inmates wanted by immigration authorities could get hotter. At its meeting Wednesday, the County Board agreed to consider two proposed amendments that would scale back the ordinance. Commissioners with opposing views of the measure also vowed to press the county’s top law-enforcement officials to testify about it at an unscheduled hearing.</p><p>The ordinance effectively bars compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, which are requests that the county’s jail hold specified inmates up to two business days after they post bond or complete their criminal cases.</p><p>One of the proposed amendments, introduced Wednesday by Timothy Schneider (R-Bartlett), seems to require compliance with the detainers for inmates listed on the federal Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment and for inmates charged with — though not necessarily convicted of — various felonies. Those felonies include certain drug offenses, crimes resulting in great bodily harm, and “forcible felonies,” which Illinois defines as involving the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual.</p><p>“I know that my amendment will not pass,” Schneider told commissioners during their meeting. “But maybe with some input from some of the stakeholders, something will come out of this and we will pass a common-sense measure that creates greater justice for victims of crimes and also to improve public safety for the residents of Cook County.”</p><p>The other proposed amendment, filed by Peter Silvestri (R-Elmwood Park) and John Daley (D-Chicago), would give the sheriff leeway to honor the detainers.</p><p>“The sheriff should have greater discretion on holding people that pose a threat to society,” Silvestri said before the meeting. “The sheriff, as the chief law enforcement officer of the county, should develop a procedure for determining which individuals to keep and which to release.”</p><p>That idea is not going over well with the ordinance’s author, Jesús García (D-Chicago). “It would bring back a flawed program that has not succeeded in apprehending dangerous criminals, and has instead resulted in the detention and sometimes deportation of people with minor infractions, victims of crime, and even U.S. citizens,” a statement from García’s office said. “It would give the sheriff unbridled discretion to comply with ICE detainers.”</p><p>Commissioners voted Wednesday afternoon to send both proposals to the board’s Legislation and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, chaired by Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who supports the ordinance.</p><p>Sheriff Tom Dart’s office did not return a call about the proposals, but he has quietly urged commissioners to require compliance with ICE detainers for inmates who meet any of several criteria. Dart listed some of the criteria in a December letter to Silvestri: “[It] is my hope that you agree that those charged with a ‘forcible felony,’ those who have a history of convictions and those on a Homeland Security Terrorist Watch List should be held on an ICE detainer rather than released immediately.”</p><p>State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office did not return a call about the proposals.</p><p>The ordinance, approved in a 10-5 vote last September, has received increasing public attention in recent weeks as news outlets have focused on a convicted felon who was charged and jailed in a fatal Logan Square hit-and-run incident last year and named on an ICE detainer. After the ordinance passed, officials say, the inmate posted bond, walked free and went missing.</p><p>A letter this month from ICE Director John Morton to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle cites that case. “This ordinance undermines public safety in Cook County and hinders ICE’s ability to enforce the nation’s immigration laws,” the letter says.</p><p>Last week Preckwinkle said the hit-and-run suspect’s release “outraged” her, but she has stuck behind the ordinance. Instead of reconsidering it, she proposed a study of the county’s bail bond system for all criminal cases — no matter whether the inmate’s name appears on an ICE detainer. On Wednesday, the board approved the proposal, under which the county’s Judicial Advisory Council will undertake the study. That five-member panel, chaired by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, would recommend ways to improve pretrial services so judges can make better-informed decisions on bond amounts, according to the proposal.</p><p>ICE took custody of 1,665 Cook County inmates in 2010 and 721 in 2011, according to Dart’s office. Morton’s letter says ICE has lodged detainers against another 268 county inmates since the ordinance’s approval but the sheriff’s office has disregarded them.</p><p>The ordinance prohibits the jail from honoring the detainers unless the federal government agrees in advance to pay for the extended confinement — something ICE says it doesn’t do. García and others who back the ordinance say the detainers violated inmates’ due-process rights and eroded community trust in local police. A federal court ruling in Indiana last summer called compliance with the detainers “voluntary.”</p><p>The ordinance has reverberated beyond Cook County. In October, California’s Santa Clara County adopted a similar measure.</p></p> Wed, 18 Jan 2012 13:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/commissioners-take-aim-county-immigration-law-95607 President Preckwinkle defends releasing immigrant detainees http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-13/president-preckwinkle-defends-releasing-immigrant-detainees-95526 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-13/By Bill Healy - July 27 2011 - 005.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Saul Chavez, accused of driving drunk and killing a man, posted bail and was released despite the federal detainer placed on him. He was released under an ordinance passed last year by the Cook County Board--Chavez is now presumed to have left the country.</p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss why she still supports the ordinance and her response to a letter she recently received from the director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, John Morton, who said the ordinance “undermines public safety in Cook County and hinders ICE’s ability to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle asked for a study to identify better ways for the county's judges to set bail in criminal cases. She joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss the hot-button issue. WBEZ's West Side bureau reporter Chip Mitchell, who has been <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/preckwinkle-asks-study-bail-bonds-95519" target="_blank">covering</a> the ordinance since last summer, also joined the conversation.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 13 Jan 2012 14:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-13/president-preckwinkle-defends-releasing-immigrant-detainees-95526 County commissioner pulls bill to free inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/county-commissioner-pulls-bill-free-inmates-wanted-ice-89730 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-27/Garcia.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Legislation that would have required Cook County to free some jail inmates wanted by immigration authorities is dead for now.<br> <br> Commissioner Jesús García, D-Chicago, withdrew his bill at Wednesday’s County Board meeting. “We want to rethink it,” he said afterwards.<br> <br> The measure would have made the county the nation’s largest jurisdiction to end blanket compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. Those are requests by the federal agency for local jails to keep some inmates 48 hours beyond what their criminal cases require.<br> <br> García’s bill would have ended the county’s compliance unless the inmate had been convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors and unless the county got reimbursed.<br> <br> Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she would back releasing some inmates wanted by ICE but wants to hear from State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. “We hope to have a written opinion from the state’s attorney that will allow us to proceed,” she said after the board meeting.<br> <br> A letter from Alvarez to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office back in 2009 said the jail “must comply with any ICE detainers.”<br> <br> But ICE officials in recent months have said there is no legal requirement for jails to comply. Dart told WBEZ this month he planned to ask Alvarez for an updated opinion.<br> <br> Alvarez’s office hasn’t answered WBEZ’s questions about whether she will revisit that opinion.</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 21:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/county-commissioner-pulls-bill-free-inmates-wanted-ice-89730 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 Dart slammed for mulling release of inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/dart-slammed-mulling-release-inmates-wanted-ice-89317 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-18/Dart-Craigslist-M-Spencer-JPG.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Supporters of tougher immigration enforcement are criticizing Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart for seeking legal options enabling the county’s massive jail to quit holding some inmates wanted for immigration violations.<br> <br> Dart <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233">told WBEZ</a> last week his department was looking for a way to end its blanket compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests that detainees be held 48 hours beyond what their local criminal cases require. The holds, financed by the county, help ICE take custody and begin deportation proceedings. Dart says the jail’s role erodes community trust in local law enforcement, discouraging witnesses and even victims from cooperating with police.<br> <br> Ira Mehlman, spokesman of a Washington-based pro-enforcement group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is not convinced. “This idea that turning people over to immigration authorities — who have already been picked up on suspicion of some crime — is somehow going to cause this massive chill just doesn’t hold water,” says Mehlman, who accuses Dart of “putting politics ahead of community safety.”<br> <br> The WBEZ report has also led to a torrent of comments on the station’s Web site. The visitors have labeled Dart everything from a “fool” to a “traitor.”<br> <br> But Dart’s review is also winning praise. “Sheriffs throughout the country are revisiting their policies with respect to the ICE holds,” says Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “The criminal justice system already distinguishes between people who can be released with no threat to public safety and those who cannot.”<br> <br> San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey on June 1 <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/San_Francisco_policy_on_ICE_detainers.pdf">quit honoring</a> ICE requests for holds of inmates arrested for certain traffic infractions and other low-level offenses if a background check finds no felony convictions and meets other requirements. Since then, his department has released four inmates with ICE detainers, according to Eileen Hirst, the sheriff’s chief of staff.<br> <br> ICE officials acknowledge that local jails have no legal requirement to comply with the detainer requests.</p></p> Mon, 18 Jul 2011 18:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/dart-slammed-mulling-release-inmates-wanted-ice-89317 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 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