The city of Chicago, Cook County and the state of Illinois were three of 23 jurisdictions nationwide that were put on notice this week by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for their so-called sanctuary policies regarding immigrants here illegally.
Letters from the DOJ warned the jurisdictions will receive subpoenas if they fail to turn over documents that could show they are violating federal law by barring the sharing of information about immigrants in the country illegally with federal authorities.
Compliance with federal law 8 U.S.C. 1373, which promotes immigration sharing related to immigration enforcement, is a prerequisite for federal funding under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
"I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law. We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government's immigration enforcement — enough is enough."
The letters to Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County board of commissioners; John Maki, executive director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority; and Eddie T. Johnson, Chicago superintendent of police, turn up the heat not just on Cook County and the City of Chicago but the re-election bid of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
In August, Rauner signed legislation effectively making Illinois a sanctuary state; the legislation limits the role local and state police in Illinois can play in cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
In December, Rauner’s opponent in the Republican primary, state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton introduced legislation that would overturn the law.
“Sanctuary states protect those who violate the law at the expense of those who follow the law,” Ives said. “Sanctuary states pit law enforcement agencies against one another, rather than encouraging corporation in the interest of making communities safer.”
Ives announced the legislation at a press conference outside the Cook County Jail. Appearing with her was Dennis McCann, whose brother, Brian, was killed in 2011 by a drunk driver who was here illegally.
In the DOJ letters, Bureau of Justice Assistance Director Jon Adler said officials remained concerned that the jurisdictions had policies that violate the law, despite their responses to previous requests from the department. Adler asked for "any orders, directives, instructions, or guidance to your law enforcement employees.” He warned the DOJ would subpoena the documents if necessary.