WBEZ | Steve Patterson http://www.wbez.org/tags/steve-patterson Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Suburban mayor criticizes Cook County immigration policy http://www.wbez.org/story/suburban-mayor-criticizes-cook-county-immigration-policy-92476 <p><p>A Northwest suburban mayor is criticizing a new Cook County policy for being weak on illegal immigration.</p><p>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.</p><p>Hanover Park mayor Rod Craig argues that policy puts criminals back on the street.</p><p>"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."</p><p>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.</p><p>But Steve Patterson, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, sees the situation differently.</p><p>"I just think it's a case where the mayor doesn't understand what happened, that's all," he said.</p><p>According to Patterson, the sheriff's office released 1,665 detainees into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last year.</p><p>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.</p></p> Mon, 26 Sep 2011 18:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/suburban-mayor-criticizes-cook-county-immigration-policy-92476 County starts freeing inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/county-starts-freeing-inmates-wanted-ice-91808 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-09/Cook county jail Ted S. Warren-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new Cook County ordinance that touches the hot-button issue of immigration is allowing inmates out of the county’s jail and making waves in other parts of the country.</p><p>The ordinance, approved Wednesday by the County Board, halts compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests that certain inmates stay in jail up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require. The requests, known as detainers, give ICE time to pick up the inmates for possible deportation.</p><p>Sheriff Tom Dart’s office says by Friday afternoon the jail had freed 11 jail inmates named in ICE detainers.</p><p>ICE took custody of 721 Cook County inmates on detainers this year and 1,665 last year, according to Dart’s office. “I guess that’s it,” spokesman Steve Patterson says.</p><p>The ordinance requires the jail to free such inmates unless the federal government agrees in advance to pay for the extended confinement. ICE says the feds don’t reimburse any local jurisdiction in the country for those costs.</p><p>“It’s like a godsend,” says Carlos Torres, 29, of North Lawndale.</p><div class="inset"><p><span style="color: rgb(165, 42, 42);"><span style="font-size: 24px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">‘You have many localities and state legislatures trying to do immigration policy. We’re not best equipped to do this.</span></em></span></span><span style="color: rgb(165, 42, 42);"><span style="font-size: 24px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">’</span></em></span></span></p></div><p>Torres says Chicago police last month arrested his father after finding narcotics in a car in which he was a passenger. Torres says his father, a Mexico native, has an expired green card and that his U.S. record includes a burglary conviction. “So that would make him more likely to get deported,” Torres says.</p><p>ICE found out Torres’s father was in the jail and put a detainer on him. But the ordinance gives the inmate a better chance of walking free after a court appearance Tuesday. “I’m relieved,” Torres says.</p><p>Jesús García, D-Chicago, and other commissioners who backed the measure say detainers violate inmates’ due-process rights and erode community trust in local cops.</p><p>“You have many localities and state legislatures trying to do immigration policy,” García says. “We’re not best equipped to do this.”</p><p>García says local governments are stuck with the job until Congress overhauls the nation’s immigration laws.</p><p>Those localities have some cover from a federal court ruling in Indiana this summer. The ruling says compliance with ICE detainers is voluntary.</p><p>Still, a few Cook County commissioners have qualms about ignoring them. “Under this ordinance, gang bangers and people involved in drug dealing, sex trafficking and criminal sexual assault will be released back into our communities,” Timothy Schneider, R-Bartlett, said during Wednesday’s County Board meeting. “This is clearly our Willie Horton moment.”</p><p>A Massachusetts prison released Horton, a convicted felon, as part of a weekend furlough program in 1986. He did not return and committed violent crimes that came back to haunt Gov. Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign.</p><p>ICE sounds a similar alarm. “ICE has not sought to compel compliance through legal proceedings [but] jurisdictions that ignore detainers bear the risk of possible public safety risks,” the agency said in a statement about the Cook County vote.</p><p>Asked whether ICE will take the county to court to compel compliance, the agency did not answer.</p><p>The ordinance, meanwhile, is reverberating beyond the county. “For a long time we felt like we were in this alone,” says Juniper Downs, lead deputy counsel for Santa Clara County, California. “Cook County’s bold policy may affect the direction of the policy we develop.”</p><p>At least three other counties — Taos and San Miguel, both in New Mexico, and San Francisco in California — have limited the sorts of inmates they’re holding on ICE detainers. None has gone as far as Cook County, which is ignoring the detainers altogether.</p></p> Fri, 09 Sep 2011 23:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/county-starts-freeing-inmates-wanted-ice-91808 Proposal to free inmates wanted by ICE gets flak http://www.wbez.org/story/proposal-free-inmates-wanted-ice-gets-flak-91585 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-06/Timothy Schneider.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A proposal for the Cook County Jail to free some inmates wanted by immigration authorities could be up for a vote at the county board meeting Wednesday morning. But it’s hitting turbulence.</p><p>Board Commissioner Timothy Schneider, R-Streamwood, plans to speak against the measure at the meeting. “Are we going to disregard the rule of law?” he said Tuesday afternoon. “If they’re illegal they should be deported.”</p><p>On an average day, the county turns over three inmates wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Those transfers follow ICE requests, known as detainers, that ask the jail to hold the inmates up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require.</p><p>Under the proposed ordinance, the county would start freeing the inmates unless the federal government paid for the hold. County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and nine commissioners are sponsoring the measure.</p><p>Preckwinkle said Tuesday that asking local jails to hold inmates for suspected immigration violations amounts to an unfunded federal mandate. “It costs us $142.80 a day to keep somebody in the jail,” she said. “It adds up over time.”</p><p>Sheriff Tom Dart has criticized the holds but his spokesman, Steve Patterson, said Tuesday afternoon the proposed ordinance deserves more debate: “We’d just like more dialogue with all parties in the room.”</p><p>Patterson said those parties include federal authorities, local law-enforcement officials and immigrant families and their advocates.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian‎ contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Wed, 07 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/proposal-free-inmates-wanted-ice-gets-flak-91585 Illinois Senate votes to undo cemetery regulations http://www.wbez.org/story/burr-oak-cemetery/illinois-senate-votes-undo-cemetery-regulations-85255 <p><p>Legislators in Springfield are considering a measure that would undo some cemetery regulations in the state.</p><p>The Illinois Senate approved legislation that would cut back on a statewide task force designated to oversee cemeteries. The bill would also draw back a new requirement that cemeteries must submit burial records into a state database.</p><p>Those procedures were enacted after an investigation into Burr Oak Cemetery in 2009, where Cook County Sheriff's police uncovered an alleged scheme to re-sell burial plots.</p><p>State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, said Burr Oak was one bad apple out of a state of compliant cemeteries.</p><p>"Nothing could've prevented any wrongdoing from what happened at Burr Oak Cemetery," Jones said.</p><p>Meanwhile, Steve Patterson, spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff, said his office is still receiving new complaints about conditions at other cemeteries around Chicago.</p><p>"(The legislation) sort of goes back to a Wild West days where anything goes, including double burials and dumping bodies in the back of a cemetery and we just don't want to see it go back to that," Patterson said.</p><p>The bill still needs approval in the Illinois House.</p></p> Fri, 15 Apr 2011 18:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/burr-oak-cemetery/illinois-senate-votes-undo-cemetery-regulations-85255