Photo: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has now said she agrees with comments made my Sheriff Tom Dart on the state of the Cook County Jail system and the local government’s role in assisted the federal government by detaining undocumented immigrants until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can get them.
Preckwinkle stated that aside from endangering the community - as those foreign born are often hesitant to go to police when crimes occur – ICE asking Cook County to assist them is draining the county’s financial resources, due to the increased cost of detaining undocumented immigrants while waiting for ICE to take them into custody.
“I applaud Sheriff Dart’s recent public statements highlighting the troubling inconsistencies in current Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policies that are in place at the Cook County Jail system,” Preckwinkle said. “The disincentive for the thousands of immigrants in our County – including lawful immigrants and permanent residents – to cooperate with local law enforcement places a great strain on our communities. I encourage ICE to work with officials such as Sheriff Dart throughout the country to provide them with a better understanding of policies and regulations. I have written a letter to President Obama and asked my Judicial Advisory Council (JAC), which was recently re-purposed to work more actively and more closely with our criminal justice system constellation, to study this matter very closely, and provide support to the Sheriff’s office in exploring possible solutions that we can undertake here in Cook County.
“This serves as a perfect example of the need for our Federal lawmakers to enact comprehensive immigration reform that eliminates inconsistencies between levels of government, reduces the burden on tax payers who bear unnecessary costs and increases public safety in our local communities.”
A new proposal is being considered that 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.
If Cook County were to decide stop complying with ICE detainers, it would likely be the first in the country to do so.