Donald Trump

Rauner to Sign Immigration Bill Amid Conservative Backlash

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to sign into law a bill that would 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 will sign Senate Bill 31, known as the Illinois TRUST Act, on Monday, a spokeswoman for Rauner said Tuesday.

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 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.

Some say the bill would turn 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 will sign 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 already 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 his 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. 

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