State Police Forbidden From Making Arrests Based On Immigration Status

Jan 5, 2015

Lawrence Benito, the CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says he didn't know in advance Gov. Pat Quinn was going to issue the executive orders, but he applauds the action.
Credit Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,

Immigration status alone will no longer be a valid reason for the Illinois State Police to detain someone, under an order issued Mon., Jan. 5 by Gov. Pat Quinn.

In the executive order, Gov. Quinn says that "community policing efforts are hindered" when immigrants who are victims of, or witness to, crimes are wary of cooperating for fear they'll be deported.

His order prohibits state law enforcement agencies from taking or keeping someone in custody, because of an immigration detainer. That's how U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement marks a suspected undocumented immigrant for possible deportation. Quinn says the ICE detainer requests are voluntary; and he, says, they have been erroneously placed on U.S. citizens.

Quinn's order only applies to agencies under the governor's control: state troopers, and conservation police.

Lawrence Benito, the head of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says it's a goal to go further in the coming year.

"The most common reason get why immigrants get caught up in the immigration pipeline is through routine traffic stops with local law enforcement. And so we've been working with the legislature to address this legislatively," Benito said.

Cultural sensitivity training is also to become a part of police training.

Quinn, who leaves office next week, also issued another order; it seeks to make it easier for immigrants trying to apply for the temporary legal status under President Barack Obama's recent executive action. The President's action will allow millions of immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally to get a reprieve from deportation.

The governor's "New Americans Welcoming Initiative" will help assist in the estimated four percent of Illinois' population that may be eligible for that relief. Quinn's order requires state agencies to provide immigrants with information on how they can get records they need to apply.

Benito says state agencies will play an important role going forward.

"For example, the Department of Labor. So, through this executive action, people will be able to get work permits. And documents that they may have previously have showed to their employer, they may have new documents, to demonstrate who they are, and that they have proper work authorization to be employed," he said.

Both of Quinn's orders take effect immediately.