Governor’s new immigration policy puts Illinois families at risk

By John M. Cabello, R-Machesney Park

State Representative, 68th District

The recent decision by Governor Pritzker’s administration and the Illinois Department of Corrections to no longer cooperate with federal immigration authorities and instead allow for the release of non-citizen convicted felons into our communities poses a dangerous risk to the people of Illinois.

I have sent a letter to Governor urging him to reverse this decision. Releasing non-citizen convicted felons onto our streets endangers public safety and threatens vital federal funding for many important programs. The Governor’s action in this matter is not only a violation of federal law, it is reckless.

We are talking about dangerous felons including those convicted of violent crimes like murder, sexual offenses against minors, predatory criminal sexual assault, and criminal offenses involving use of a weapon, among others. The Governor and state corrections officials under his command are now releasing these individuals directly back into the community upon completion of their sentence without notifying federal immigration authorities.

Every Illinoisan should find this deeply troubling.

At a committee hearing in Springfield last week, I asked Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Acting Director Rob Jeffreys if he considers IDOC to be a law enforcement agency. He answered yes. I asked him if he considers U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be a law enforcement agency. He answered yes. When I asked him if he believes it is appropriate for one law enforcement agency to refuse to cooperate with another law enforcement agency, Mr. Jeffreys did not have an answer.

I have formally requested that the Governor’s Office and IDOC immediately disclose all correspondence, written and electronic, relating to the decision-making process and the directive to cease cooperation between the IDOC and federal immigration authorities. The public demands nothing short of full and complete transparency regarding this policy change to release violent non-citizen criminal offenders into communities across Illinois.

I urge you to contact your State Representative and State Senator to urge them to join me in calling on the Governor to reverse this dangerous policy. You can find contact information for your legislators by visiting the Illinois General Assembly website at www.ilga.gov and clicking on “Legislator Lookup” on the homepage.

We all need to stand together to insist that public safety be prioritized over the pursuit of a narrow political agenda that places the interests of non-citizen convicted felons above those of Illinois families.