Senators ask Napolitano, Holder to penalize Chicagoland county for defying immigration officials

“It is ironic and frustrating that the Administration has filed suit against several states for passing laws that aim to protect their citizens and help enforce immigration law while essentially turning a blind eye to jurisdictions that actively promote safe harbor policies,” the senators wrote to Napolitano and Holder.

In this Sept. 29, 2011 photo, inmates at the Cook County Jail in Chicago, the second largest county jail in the nation, line up to be processed for release. Cook County Commissioners have passed an ordinance this month that orders the jail not to hold illegal immigrants until Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers can pick them up.

The death of a Chicago man killed by a drunk driver who was in the United States illegally has become an unlikely catalyst in the national policy debate over immigration. Eight Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder on January 30, asking them to cut off some federal funding currently sent to Cook County, Illinois.

That funding, disbursed through a federal grant program called the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, pays localities for costs incurred in processing criminal aliens when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants them detained before they can post bail.

Cook County received $2.29 million last year, $3.4 million in 2010 and $4.4 million in 2011.

Yet a Cook County ordinance forbids police from cooperating with those requests, called “detainers,” from ICE officials.


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