On Thursday, February 9th, the ACLU of Illinois will join with other concerned groups and individuals from across Cook County to oppose bills that would gut a County ordinance that limits County assistance to the federal Bureau for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Most importantly, the current Cook County ordinance requires the Sheriff to decline ICE “detainers” – that is, requests from ICE to continue to hold a person that the Sheriff plans to release, merely because ICE suspects the person might be an undocumented immigrant. A detainer lasts 48 hours – or five days if it falls over a holiday weekend. These ICE detainers have resulted in many thousands of individuals – including American citizens – being detained for excessive periods of time after arrest for minor offenses.

ACLU of Illinois senior staff counsel Adam Schwartz will tell the Cook County Board that no changes should be made to this ordinance. Indeed, the ACLU notes that detainers cause a serious violation to the 4th and 5th amendments, since individuals are seized and held without any warrant or probable cause, and are allowed no hearing to challenge their detention. These policies fall most heavily on Latinos, and can have a devastating impact on families and jobs.

The Cook County ordinance has come under a barrage of attacks since an incident in which an individual charged with a fatal DUI fled the country after being released on bail. But that tragic episode cannot justify participation by Cook County government in ICE detainers that violate the civil liberties of thousands of people.

We will continue to update you on this issue.