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Federal judge dismisses sheriffs’ ICE enforcement lawsuit

A U.S District judge last week dismissed a federal lawsuit in which a group of Illinois sheriffs challenged a state law that restricts local police cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In March, McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim joined Stephenson County Sheriff David Snyders, Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey and Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle in filing a federal lawsuit against Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

The other sheriffs voluntarily dismissed Prim as a plaintiff on the lawsuit in July, records show.

Following the judge’s decision last week, the remaining sheriffs now have until Feb. 16 to re-file an amended civil complaint. Otherwise, they’ll be denied any future attempts to file the lawsuit.

Through their complaint, filed on March 9, the sheriff’s sought injunctive relief from enforcing the Illinois Trust Act. The law took effect in 2017 and prevents local and state police from detaining a person based solely on their immigration status.

The sheriffs alleged in their civil complaint that the Trust Act conflicted with their duty to uphold federal immigration detainer requests.

In his Jan. 21 order, however, U.S. District Judge Iain D. Johnston wrote that the sheriffs aren’t required by law to honor those requests.

“Plaintiffs assume that ICE detainer requests are compulsory,” Johnston wrote. “But because ICE detainer requests are not compulsory, there is no statutory law for Plaintiffs to violate.”

Both the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and the American Civil Liberties Union have echoed findings that local compliance with ICE detainees are voluntary, and therefore don’t conflict with state law.

Should the sheriffs choose to amend their complaint, they would need to prove that the alleged conflict presented by enforcing the Trust Act has injured them “in a personal and individual way,” according to the judge’s ruling.

The sheriffs’ attorney, Chicago-based Dana Amato Sarros, could not immediately be reached to comment.

Until now, the sheriffs have argued that the Illinois Trust Act is preempted by federal law. Enforcing the Trust Act, they say, could be seen as a violation of their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and would subject them to litigation.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office did not comment directly on the lawsuit’s dismissal, other than to say Prim no longer was involved.

Months before the federal suit was filed, Prim approached McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally about drafting a similar complaint on the sheriff’s behalf, court documents show. Kenneally’s office declined, calling the suit “ill-advised” and claiming it would “run afoul of the Tenth Amendment.”

On July 8, McHenry County Judge Kevin Costello denied Prim’s subsequent request for the appointment of a special prosecutor to represent him in the federal lawsuit, records show.

Prim was dismissed as a litigant in the case about two weeks later.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office has worked with the United States Marshals Service to provide bed space to house ICE detainees since 2005. As of Tuesday, the jail earned $95 a day for each ICE detainee it houses.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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