Saturday, May 7, 2011

Madison County sheriff to continue sharing immigration records (St. Louis Today)

Madison County sheriff to continue sharing immigration records
Posted: Saturday, May 7, 2011 12:00 am

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. > The sheriff of Madison County intends to keep sharing arrest records with federal immigration authorities through the Secure Communities program, despite Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to formally sever all lines of communication.

"The bottom line is, I don't work for the governor of Illinois," said Sheriff Bob Hertz. He said the Madison County Jail would continue offering fingerprints and arrest records for federal authorities to cross-check with immigration records, as long as they are interested.

The governor announced Wednesday that he was pulling Illinois out of the federal deportation program designed to root out the "worst of the worst," because the program had swept up many illegal immigrants who had never been convicted of any crime. He requested that the partnerships between Metro East and Chicago county jails be terminated.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are looking for a way to keep lines of information open, though Quinn's order will make it harder to share. He suspended the role of the Illinois State Police, who act as a conduit between county authorities and federal officials.

Illinois is the first of the 42 states involved to withdraw from the program, but criticism of Secure Communities has made headlines nationwide. ICE wants to discuss concerns, and agency director John Morton traveled to Illinois Friday to meet with officials and discuss their complaints.

Meanwhile, Springfield lawmakers are moving forward with legislation that places statutory limits on how much information is shared. Under the plan that passed the House on Friday, Illinois State Police would only provide federal authorities with county jail data about individuals convicted of criminal offenses.

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