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Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) joins communities around the country in celebrating the defeat of S. 2146, Senator David Vitter’s (R-LA) mean-spirited and misguided immigration detainers bill. The bill attempted to coerce local law enforcement to take on immigration enforcement responsibilities by threatening to withhold millions of dollars in critical law enforcement funding to police departments that decline to unconstitutionally detain people on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. S. 2146 would have withheld community development grants and imposed new mandatory minimum sentences on certain immigrants, further targeting low-income communities of color who already are disproportionately impacted by law enforcement.

While this battle was being waged on a national stage, this bill would have had a profound impact close to home. NIJC thanks Illinois Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), who voted to oppose cloture on the motion to proceed and helped to stop this anti-immigrant legislation in its tracks. We are grateful that they understand the harm this bill would have brought to many of their constituents. Law enforcement in the city of Chicago and Cook County, Illinois, have long been vocal opponents of efforts to entangle local police with federal immigration enforcement, recognizing that public safety relies on communities knowing they can call 911 without fear of triggering deportation. Comprehensive immigration reform must be the path forward so that all victims of crime, regardless of immigration status, can come forward to help make communities safer.