person with hand on fence

Gov. Pritzker Signs New Law to End Immigration Detention in IL

On August 2, 2021, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Way Forward Act that will effectively end immigrant detention in Illinois and further limit the ability of local law enforcement officials to work with federal immigration authorities. Current contracts that allow local jails to house immigrant detainees awaiting court hearings must end by January 2022 and new agreements are banned. 

According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), three Illinois counties—Kankakee, McHenry, and Pulaski—currently have agreements at local jails and house approximately 260 total immigrant detainees. Unless there is a legal challenge to the new law or another exception, ICE can either release detainees in Illinois or transfer them to other states. 

In 2017, Republican former Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a statewide sanctuary protection measure that prohibited police from arresting, detaining, or searching anyone because of immigration status or being the target of ICE officials but allowed local authorities to communicate with immigration agents and detain someone for federal agencies if a valid criminal warrant exists. In addition, the state attorney general’s office can investigate any alleged violations of this law. 

The new law addresses the following immigration matters: 

  • Bans the establishment of private and for-profit immigration detention centers 

  • Prohibits local law enforcement authorities to sign agreements with ICE 

  • Prohibits state and local law enforcement officials from arresting individuals for violating immigration laws 

  • Encourages residents to report crimes without fear of jeopardizing their immigration status 

Gov. Pritzker said Illinois will become the second state in the country to require local officials to end partnerships with ICE by the end of this year. He also announced the creation of the Illinois Immigration Impact Task Force to study how state programs shape the lives of more than 1.8 million foreign nationals in Illinois. 

Lastly, the Illinois governor issued an executive order to establish the Welcoming Illinois Office for Immigrants and Refugees in order to make addressing immigration matters an important part of the governor’s office. 

If you or a loved one is facing deportation proceedings in Illinois, contact Gambacorta Law today at (847) 443-9303 for experienced and personalized legal representation.