Pritzker signs immigration bills amid reports of imminent ICE raids
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed three immigration bills Friday amid reports U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids could start Sunday in the Chicago area and other cities across the country.
"Let the word go out from today that the state of Illinois stands as a firewall against Donald Trump's attacks on our immigrant community," Pritzker said at an event at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The new laws comes as the president heightens his focus on deporting people who are in the U.S. illegally.
The Illinois laws, effective immediately, are "huge for our state," said Megan McKenna, director of Mano a Mano Family Resource Center in Round Lake Park, which she said helped work on the legislation.
The new laws:
• Make Illinois the first state in the country to ban private civil detention centers, such as an ICE detention center approved by downstate Dwight, after previously putting a stop to private criminal detention centers.
• Prohibit local law enforcement from engaging in federal immigration enforcement with ICE. Agencies in 21 states do so through ICE's so-called 287(g) program.
• Allow undocumented and transgender students to received Monetary Award Program grants and institutional aid at public colleges.
"Credible sources" indicate an immigration enforcement operation will start Sunday in the Chicago area, the National Immigrant Justice Center said. The reports also involve New York/Newark, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington D.C./Baltimore, center spokeswoman Julia C. Toepfer said.
CNN cited sources saying about 2,000 people with court-ordered removals in 10 urban areas would be targeted.
Mano a Mano has been getting calls from people worried about raids, particularly in McHenry County, where the jail houses detainees on behalf of ICE, McKenna said.
Jaime Garcia, executive director of Centro de Informacion in Elgin, said the agency hasn't seen a recent increase in calls from people with concerns but is planning "a know your rights" session for immigrants next month. Mano a Mano also offers such programs.
Nicole Alberico, ICE Chicago spokeswoman, declined to comment on any specific upcoming enforcement operations.
Trump said Monday on Twitter that ICE next week will begin the process of removing "millions of illegal aliens." ICE said in a statement that it "will continue to conduct interior enforcement without exemption for those who are in violation of federal immigration law. This includes routine targeted enforcement operations, criminals, individuals subject to removal orders, and worksite enforcement."
Illinois was home to an estimated 1.8 million immigrants, of which 400,000 were undocumented, in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
Elgin immigration attorney Shirley Sadjadi said there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, including almost 1 million with final deportation orders. The latter, if arrested, typically are deported within two to four weeks unless they can reopen their immigration case, she said.