A coalition of community groups, led by PASO-West Suburban Action Project, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the ACLU of Illinois, and Access Living have joined together in launching an effort to ensure uniform enforcement of the Illinois TRUST Act.
The Illinois legislature passed the TRUST Act and immediately took effect on August 28, 2017. The law prohibits local law enforcement from holding or detaining a person based on an administrative hold or “detainer” issued by immigration authorities unless presented with a signed judicial warrant.
The call for TRUST Act enforcement comes after three men recently filed lawsuits against the Sheriffs in Ogle and Stephenson Counties for flagrant violations of the TRUST Act. Each of the men was stopped and arrested for minor traffic infractions. The Sheriffs continued to detain them, even after they had posted bond, until federal immigration authorities came to pick them up.
“The police in Illinois do not work for ICE. People should not be detained because of how they look, what they believe or what paperwork they may or may not have. That’s why I sponsored the Trust Act, and it’s why this law needs to be followed,” said Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.
Plaintiff Marcio Hernandez Rodriguez of Rockford said: “Fue aterrador estar en la cárcel de Ogle County sabiendo que ICE iba a venir a recogerme. Ahora sé que eso también es ilegal. Nadie debería de pasar por esto. Por eso soy parte de esta demanda.” (“It was frightening to be in the Ogle County Jail for days, knowing that ICE was coming to pick me up. Now I know that it was also illegal. No one should have to go through something like this. That is why I am a part of this lawsuit.”)
Along with Mr. Hernandez Rodriguez, Artemio Castillo Arteaga is suing Ogle County, and Pedro Tlapa Castillo is suing the Stephenson County Sheriff’s Office for flagrantly violating the Illinois TRUST Act. The Stephenson County Sheriff held and turned over Mr. Tlapa Castillo to ICE after sheriff’s deputies pulled him over and arrested him for sliding through a stop sign on an icy road.
“Thousands across the State of Illinois called, emailed, marched and went to Springfield to win passage of the TRUST Act,” said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Executive Director of PASO - West Suburban Action Project. “It is critical that law enforcement -- those charged with enforcing our laws -- obey all laws passed and enacted in Illinois. A county sheriff or local police chief cannot view the TRUST Act as optional.”
Although the Ogle County and Stephenson County litigation is the first known lawsuit of its kind filed under the TRUST Act, many community groups working with populations of newcomers have heard similar reports from other communities. There are documented violations of the TRUST Act in Cicero, Ogle County, Streamwood, and other places across the state. This coalition of groups is demanding that all law enforcement agencies abide by the TRUST Act.
“Our clients came to this country in search of a better life and, through their hard work, have become integral members of their communities. What happened to them was unjust and illegal. We are putting Ogle County, Stephenson County and all other law enforcement agencies on notice – if you violate the TRUST Act, we will find out about it and you will hear from us,” said Aarón Siebert-Llera, Immigrants’ Rights Attorney, ACLU of Illinois.
Lawyers from the ACLU, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and the Chicago office of Schiff Hardin represent Mr. Hernandez Rodriquez, Mr. Castillo Arteaga, and Mr. Tlapa Castillo in the lawsuits announced today.
Supporting Organizations: PASO - West Suburban Action Project, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, Access Living, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the ACLU of Illinois.