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In recent months, we have been decrying the costs and consequences of the mass deportation agenda of the Trump Administration. The worst expression of this strategy at the state level is the recently-enacted SB4 in Texas, a law the encourages racial profiling and threatens local law enforcement with jail time in order to maximize deportations.
As professional law enforcement voices have been pointing out for years, when immigrants are worried that contact with local police could result in deportation, they become afraid to report crimes and serve as witnesses. This harms efforts to enlist the help of all residents, regardless of their immigration status, in getting serious criminals off the streets.
In contrast to such cruel and illogical policies, other states are moving in a common sense direction. Yesterday, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois TRUST Act, which puts this important bill on the desk of Governor Bruce Rauner (R-IL) for his signature. The new legislation is an important example of how smart policies based on the behavior of individuals rather than the status of immigrants is the best way to improve public safety for all. Inspired by the groundbreaking TRUST Act enacted in California in 2013, we hope the Illinois bill will inspire other states to do much the same.
The TRUST Act will prevent local police from holding people for immigration purposes without court-issued warrants; and forbid local police from stopping, searching or arresting anyone based on their immigration or citizenship status, upholding basic requirements under the US and Illinois Constitution. This bill has won legislative approval at a time when the current federal administration ramps up immigration enforcement, and states like Texas are passing their own restrictive legislation, fanning fear and discouraging immigrant communities from calling police. Illinois is instead seeking to encourage trust between immigrants and law enforcement, and provide a national model for welcoming immigrants and addressing public safety.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
Congratulations to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), their many allies and the majority of state legislators who support this important bill. During an era in which Trump’s Deportation Force is ramping up deportations and causing heightened fear in immigrant communities, Illinois is putting forward an alternative policy vision aimed at building trust between immigrants and law enforcement. This is a common sense measure that reminds us that standing up for immigrants means standing up for public safety, which is especially important in the age of Trump. We look forward to Gov. Rauner signing the new bill into law.