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A Victory for Public Safety and for Immigrants as GOP Governor Bruce Rauner Signs the Illinois Trust Act Into Law

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In a victory for both public safety and for immigrants, Illinois’ Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Trust Act into law today. The legislation will ensure that law enforcement throughout Illinois focus on protecting public safety instead of targeting immigrants for deportation. It encourages immigrants to come forward to report crimes and serve as witnesses without the fear that involvement with law enforcement will result in ICE ripping their families apart. This bill defies the push by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to compel local law enforcement to act as de facto deportation agents.

As the Chicago Tribune reported, Gov. Rauner “said he had sought out the opinion of law enforcement as he was contemplating whether to sign or veto the bill … ‘They all said to me, governor, this is a reasonable compromise, it will help us do our jobs better, it will help us keep our communities safer.”

Some of these same law enforcement voices spoke out in favor of the law at a press event ahead of the bill signing, per ThinkProgress.

  • Lake County Police Department Sgt. Christopher Covelli said: “Today our immigrant communities feel safer than ever coming to their local law enforcement, being witnesses to crimes that are committed, reporting if they are vicitimized or their loved ones are victimized. Let’s face it, trust builds safer communities, plain and simple.”
  • Leo P. Schmitz, the director of the Illinois State Police, said: “Our job is to take care of you, that’s what we want to do. Regardless of race, gender, or national origin, all people of Illinois should be feel secure and have the ability to reach out to us. This law reinforces local and state communities to work with the federal government to protect the neighborhood, to protect the people in the state of Illinois.”
  • As Think Progress noted“The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police also supports the bill, in part because they agree that enabling local police to enforce immigration enforcement could worsen relations between their police departments and immigrant communities that may be too fearful of deportation to report crime. Those fears aren’t unfounded. Police chiefs in Houston, Texas and Los Angeles, California have said fewer people have been reporting serious crimes like rape and domestic violence as a result of the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants.”

In an editorial praising Gov. Rauner’s decision to sign the bill, the Chicago Tribune called the Trust Act “a smart move for Illinois,” noting that the legislation “will make our communities safer and our economy stronger” and “would give immigrants some peace of mind as they go about their lives — working, shopping, paying taxes and contributing to their communities” and “would promote trust between immigrants and police.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

Congratulations to the advocates throughout Illinois who fought so hard to bring this bill across the finish line. It passed with bipartisan support, has the support of law enforcement and was signed into law by a Republican governor. It is a stinging rebuke to the push by Donald Trump to deport millions and do so by compelling the collusion of local police and diverting them from their primary purpose. With this landmark bill, Illinois underscores that it is a state that welcomes immigrants, values their contributions, and wants no part of aiding and abetting Trump’s deportation force. We hope Governor Jerry Brown of California takes notice. He is currently working on the final shape of a similar bill, the California Values Act, and we implore him to keep the bill as clear and strong as the new Illinois law.