SEPTEMBER 09, 2011
The nation’s second-largest county has enacted legislation directing local police to disregard federal government orders to hold arrested illegal immigrants, including those with criminal records or serious felony charges.Hours after commissioners in Illinois’s Cook County, which includes Chicago, passed the measure a local newspaper reported that an illegal alien charged with a felony was released after posting bail. The man, Eduardo Sanchez, had previous offenses and got arrested this week after running a red light and assaulting a police officer.Before the famously liberal Cook County Commission passed its new law, federal authorities would have illegal immigrants like Sanchez held in local jails for up to 48 hours after posting bond or completing their sentence. The extra time gives the feds a cushion to begin deportation proceedings for illegal aliens who pose a threat.But many of the area’s officials believe such holds are “unconstitutional” and violate “due process laws.” Others claim the federal hold requests are “unfunded mandates” and ending the practice will save the county lots of money, as much as $15.7 million a year. At least one of the county’s 17 commissioners dared to criticize the new measure, pointing out that it’s a “monumental mistake” because the released illegal aliens “are going to go back into our communities and commit more crimes.”With the tables turned, it will be interesting to see if the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervenes the way it has in Arizona and Alabama. In legal challenges to both states’ immigration control laws, the DOJ claims the measures undermine the federal government’s immigration enforcement authority. A state cannot set its own immigration policy, much less pass laws that conflict with federal enforcement of the immigration laws, according to the DOJ.In this case a major county with a population bigger than 29 U.S. states is clearly defying a federal mandate created to protect its residents from foreign criminals. County officials claim the federal holds were merely requests and not requirements. It’s probably safe to bet that Obama’s DOJ will agree.
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