Cook County, Illinois, Bucks Immigration Enforcement Efforts Cook County recently passed an ordinance that requires its jail to free inmates wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, unless the federal government agrees in advance to pay for extended confinement — something federal officials say they don't do. Other counties may soon follow suit.
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Illinois County Defies Feds On Immigrant Detentions

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Illinois County Defies Feds On Immigrant Detentions

Illinois County Defies Feds On Immigrant Detentions

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

And Chip Mitchell of member station WBEZ in Chicago reports that other counties may soon follow suit.

CHIP MITCHELL: In Illinois, Cook County Jail this year turned over 721 inmates named on ICE detainers, people like Carlos Torres's father. Torres says his father is a Mexican native with an expired green card and...

CARLOS TORRES: He's had a burglary on his record once, so that would make him more likely to get deported.

MITCHELL: Torres's father went to jail last month after police found narcotics in a car he was riding in. ICE found out he was in jail and put a detainer on him, but a new Cook County ordinance prevents the jail from complying with those detainers, so Torres says his father has a better chance of walking free after his court appearance tomorrow.

TORRES: It's like a godsend.

MITCHELL: The ordinance passed last week and the jail has already released 15 inmates wanted by immigration authorities. The measure is especially popular in heavily Latino districts, like Democrat Jesus Garcia's on Chicago's southwest side.

JESUS GARCIA: You have many localities and state legislators trying to do immigration policy. We're not best equipped to do this.

MITCHELL: Cook County may have some cover from a federal court ruling in Indiana. The ruling calls compliance with the detainers voluntary. Still, county board Republican Timothy Schneider is uncomfortable with ignoring the federal government's requests.

TIMOTHY SCHNEIDER: Under this ordinance, gang bangers and people involved in drug dealing, sex trafficking and criminal sexual assault, they'll be released out in our communities.

MITCHELL: ICE spokesman Greg Palmore says preventing his agency from deporting inmates just doesn't make sense.

GREG PALMORE: Jurisdictions who ignore detainers bear the risk of allowing an individual back into the public domain before they were thoroughly vetted.

MITCHELL: Juniper Downs is lead deputy counsel for Santa Clara County in California.

JUNIPER DOWNS: For a long time, we felt like we were in this alone and Cook County's bold policy may affect the direction of the policy we develop.

MITCHELL: For NPR News, I'm Chip Mitchell in Chicago.

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