Chairman says McHenry County will have to cancel its ICE contract

McHenry County will have to cancel its contract with the federal government to house federal immigration detainees, the county board chairman said Thursday.

A 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel issued a stay Dec. 30, pushing back the deadline McHenry and Kankakee counties have to end their contracts to house U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees to today .

The judges declined to extend that stay, McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler told the county board during its committee of the whole meeting this morning. He said the county was notified of the decision Wednesday night.

McHenry and Kankakee counties, who had filed the September lawsuit, did not demonstrate a likelihood that the district court erred in its decision to dismiss the lawsuit last month or that they are threatened with "imminent irreparable harm."

McHenry and Kankakee counties argued in court that the Illinois Way Forward Act violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits states from interfering with the federal government's exercise of its constitutional powers, and interferes with the federal government's ability to do its work.

U.S. District Court Judge Philip G. Reinhard, the judge who dismissed the lawsuit early last month, said in his opinion that the state has the authority to determine whether it - or any of its political subdivisions, including counties - can enter into or remain in cooperative agreements like the one with ICE.

The decision Wednesday means the Illinois Way Forward Act took effect at noon today, including a provision that prohibits counties from entering into contracts to house immigration detainees and requires existing contracts to have ended by Jan. 1.

McHenry County's contract requires 30 days' written notice to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement time to remove detainees from the jail's custody, which means the soonest ICE detainees now would be removed from the jail is mid-February.

The 30-day clock for ICE to remove its detainees starts today, Buehler said.

Buehler and McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally had criticized the Illinois Way Forward Act.

Following the federal stay, Buehler, a Crystal Lake Republican, called it "an unconstitutional and poorly thought out law that was hastily thrown together by the General Assembly to make a political statement regarding current federal immigration enforcement."

"The forced termination of the contract will not mean that ICE will be releasing its detainees from the county jail; they will be relocated to facilities in other states, which will force families of detainees to travel much farther to visit while their loved ones await their hearings," the county said in a statement at the time. "Also, the loss of revenue from the contract will hurt residents countywide in the form of diminished services or potential tax increases in future years."

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