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Rauner Signs ‘Illinois Trust Act' on Immigration

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Monday a measure to prevent law enforcement officials across the state from detaining individuals based solely on their immigration status, and limit local agencies’ cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

The governor signed Senate Bill 31, known as the Illinois TRUST Act, in front of a crowd at the Mi Tierra restaurant in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. [[442016773, C]]

"Illinois has been welcoming of immigrants for a long time, and this bill will continue that tradition," Rauner said in a statement. "It also makes clear that stopping violent crime will be law enforcement’s mission rather than working on federal prerogatives that a federal court has found illegal."

 The General Assembly passed the bill in May, sending it to the Republican governor’s desk the following month. After spending nearly two months deciding what to do with it, Rauner first indicated during a radio interview earlier this month that he would support the bill, saying he thought “it seems very reasonable.”

The measure will prohibit police officers and other law enforcement officials from stopping, detaining, or arresting anyone based solely on their immigration status or an immigration detainer – effectively limiting the role of local authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Nothing in the bill – which was scaled back from its original form through negotiations involving advocacy groups, law enforcement, businesses and other stakeholders – prohibits agencies from communicating with immigration authorities, and local authorities can hold individuals if presented with a criminal warrant. The bill also includes a provision to require law enforcement agencies to provide officers with guidance on complying with the law.

"Immigrants in our community should not have to feel unsafe when they go to work or take their children to school," the bill's primary House sponsor, state Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), said in a statement. "This legislation will ensure that proper legal procedures are being followed and provide peace of mind to members of our community."

Some say the law turns Illinois into a “sanctuary state,” the term used for jurisdictions that do not comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who have been arrested on charges unrelated to their immigration status and turn them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation.

President Donald Trump has made a concerted effort to crack down on these jurisdictions, signing an executive order in January to halt federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities.

A judge blocked that action in April, ruling that the president could not set new conditions on spending approved by Congress – but Attorney General Jeff Sessions has moved to intensify the crackdown on a number of occasions, recently including new provisions in a U.S. Department of Justice public safety grant application that would require local governments to allow federal officials access to any detention facility to inquire about the citizenship of anyone believed to be undocumented, and to give federal authorities 48 hours advance notice before releasing someone who is wanted on immigration violations, as conditions to receive funding.

The City of Chicago filed a lawsuit over this shift earlier this month, though it’s not immediately clear how the Illinois TRUST Act would impact the state’s federal grant funding.

Often reluctant to discuss national political issues, particularly as they relate to Trump, Rauner signed the bill – which received one Republican vote in the House and five in the Senate – on the final day of his 60-day window to act on the legislation, in a move that has angered some of the state’s more conservative voters and pundits.

Far-right website Breitbart News slammed the first-term governor for his support of the bill, sharing criticisms of the measure from conservative commentators like Rosanna Pulido, former Republican candidate for Congress and founder of the anti-immigration group Illinois Minutemen.

“Personally I am already checking out a different state I can move to. It is truly a sad day in Illinois,” Pulido said, calling SB 31 “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Former congressman and conservative radio host Joe Walsh tweeted Tuesday that Rauner is "done" if he signs the bill, adding that it would be a “bad terrible day for Illinois” and he would not support the governor's reelection.

Proponents of the legislation say it will result in increased trust between police officers and the immigrant community, giving undocumented residents more confidence in coming forward to report a crime or assist in an investigation without fear that they will subsequently be deported. 

"The Trust Act will enhance the cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement agencies across the state," Senate President John Cullerton said in a statement when the bill passed in May.

"Also, it will facilitate a better use of limited resources allowing police agencies to focus on relationship building with their residents instead of doing the work of federal immigration agents." the Chicago Democrat added. "The safety and wellbeing of the residents is grounded in working alongside the people whose mission it is to protect them, and this legislation is a step toward accomplishing just that."

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