Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
The sanctuary law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in August, and now dogging him in his primary fight against State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), had its beginnings in DuPage County.
In February 2017, DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba instructed his corrections and jail staffers to no longer honor detainer requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) covering jailed illegal aliens. The memo was sent six months before Rauner signed the “Trust Act,” making Illinois a sanctuary state.
The memo from Sgt. Tim Schoenenberger, dated February 17, reads in part:
“Effective immediately, per Sheriff [John] Zaruba, we will no longer be holding inmates with the detainers ICE sends. If someone is being released from the [jail] facility, these detainers will NOT be a reason to hold them.”
The public, and even most members of Zaruba’s staff, were unaware of the order until it became public last week under a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Unbelievable that a memo was sent prior to the Rauner bill signing,” Ives, who has repeatedly called out the governor for signing the sanctuary bill into law, told the Prairie State Wire. “I am disappointed DuPage County went this direction, and hid it from residents. As a resident of DuPage, I would like an explanation.”
Zaruba, who is retiring, did not return a call for comment.
James Mendrick, patrol commander and a candidate for DuPage County sheriff, said that he and the 400 deputies in the office knew nothing about the memo until late last week. He looked into it when he found out.
“On February 15, a group calling itself DuPage County Progressives posted on Facebook that there were going to have a meeting with Zaruba about making DuPage a sanctuary county," Mendrick told the Prairie State Wire. "They met on February 16 and on the 17th the memo comes out. It disturbs me to think that the meeting led to the memo but what else can I conclude.”
Mendrick said that the policy change by Zaruba will be difficult to reverse given that Illinois is now a sanctuary state, but that he would work through the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, if elected, to get the law amended to cover violent crimes.
“We should at the very least be permitted to hold someone for something like domestic battery for 48 hours," Mendrick said. “ICE often needs that amount of time to pick someone up. Now as soon as they bond out, they’re gone.”
Denise Cattoni, founder of the Illinois Tea Party and a Lisle resident in DuPage County, said she was “outraged” when she found out that DuPage had secretly become a sanctuary county.
“Before Rauner signed the bill, he asked my advice on it,” Cattoni told the Prairie State Wire. “I told him if he signed it he would lose grass-roots support that helped him get elected the first time. At the time, I had no idea that DuPage had already become a sanctuary county. I hate to think we were first in this.”