Chicago is still a sanctuary city, and will remain so for the foreseeable future, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. However, this decision has not come without comment. The U.S. Attorney General has been highly critical of Chicago’s leadership, seeing fit to draw conclusions about the city’s crime rate versus that of Miami, ascribing the difference solely to Miami-Dade’s capitulation to the Justice Department’s request to honor immigration detainers. In what may be seen as a reaction to such talk, Gov. Bruce Rauner may be poised to sign off on the Trust Act, which could have a small but significant effect on Illinois’ immigrant population.
Is Chicago a Sanctuary City?
While there has been much ink spilled about what a true sanctuary city is, the term of art as it is understood is solely defined as a city which does not comply with federal immigration detainers. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) sends “detainers” to local police departments when they hear of someone they believe should be detained due to their immigration status. In most cities, local police comply with these “detainers,” holding the person for longer than they would otherwise be constitutionally authorized to do.
Sanctuary cities do not comply with detainers—there is evidence to suggest that involving local police in immigration enforcement only isolates and alienates the undocumented community, and even high-ranking law enforcement officials have routinely criticized the involvement of their forces in doing the work that many feel federal agents should be doing. The hyperbolic talk of nests of undocumented criminals is simply inaccurate, despite the rhetoric that federal officials have lately begun to use. Chicago, at least, may be headed toward a common-sense solution.
What is the Trust Act?
The Trust Act is a product of negotiation and compromise between immigration activists and business leaders, with the aim of ensuring the law is followed with a minimal infringement on the rights of the innocent and minimal taxpayer dollars going to waste. The law as proposed would bar any law enforcement official in Illinois from arresting someone solely on the basis of his or her alleged immigration status. If there is another valid reason to take someone into custody, law enforcement may still proceed, but mere suspicion of someone being undocumented would not be probable cause for arrest.
While there is nonetheless opposition to the Act, mostly on the basis of perceived threats from “criminals,” it is important to realize that there is support from both sides of the political spectrum since modifications have been made from the original document.
Originally, there were to be safe zones in which ICE would not have been able to arrest those they had reason to detain, but this was excised as unduly burdensome on law enforcement’s performance of its duties. Compromises such as this have crafted a bill that is at least marginally appealing to both liberals and conservatives.
Have Questions About the Trust Act?
If you are an undocumented person, the fear of being arrested is omnipresent. However, even if you are arrested, you have options, and the Trust Act would give you one more—especially if you can show that you were arrested due to your appearance or perceived undocumented status.
The Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help with your case, and regardless of whether or not the Trust Act passes (though signs point toward Gov. Rauner either signing the bill or allowing it to pass into law without action), we will do our best to obtain the result that is the best for you. Call us today to set up an initial appointment.
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