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NiLP Guest Commentary

The Illinois Trust Act: Pushing Back Against Trump's Anti-Immigrant Policies

By Sylvia Puente

The NiLP Report

The State of Illinois took a major step forward this week in pushing back against the Trump administration's anti-immigrant agenda and likely set the new standard for immigrant integration legislation across the country. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, flanked by immigrant rights leaders, law enforcement officials and business leaders signed the Illinois Trust Act into law on Monday, August 28th.

The Trust Act is recognized as the strongest legislation of its kind in the nation; codifying that local and state law enforcement in Illinois cannot comply with federal immigration detainers and warrants unless ordered by a federal judge. Federal courts have ruled that detaining an individual based on a detainer, without a judge finding probable cause to hold that person, violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

With passage of the Trust Act, a clear line has been drawn in Illinois highlighting the constitutional limits local police must abide by when interacting with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials or operations. Another key provision of the Trust Act states that local police cannot stop, search, or arrest anyone based solely on that person's immigration or citizenship status. At a time when calls to 911 emergency services from Latinos and immigrant communities have noticeably declined in Chicago and across the country, this legislation will serve to restore the trust and faith of Latinos and immigrants in their local law enforcement and emergency service agencies as people who will serve and protect, regardless of immigration status.

The Chicago-based Latino Policy Forum recognizes and congratulates the dozens of community-based and social service organizations across Illinois that make up the Campaign For A Welcoming Illinois. This broad coalition of organizations worked in close collaboration to craft the legislation and developed a powerful grassroots advocacy strategy that ultimately passed the Trust Act. Governor Bruce Rauner and the 5 Republican state legislators who voted in favor of the Trust Act also deserve credit for their support of this legislation. Surely that was not an easy vote for Republican or Democrat legislators to make given the profoundly anti-immigrant national political climate and the disinformation circulated in Illinois regarding the scope of this legislation.

The fact that this legislation received widespread support from law enforcement agencies across the state demonstrates their recognition of the Trust Act as a tool, not a hindrance, to increase the level of trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities across the state. People, regardless of their immigration status, should never be afraid to call 911 emergency services if they have been the victim of a crime, have witnessed a crime or require other emergency assistance.

Leo Schmitz, Director of the Illinois State Police, was one of the law enforcement officials who spoke in support of the Trust Act: "All people in Illinois should feel secure and should be able to report crimes or call for assistance when needed." He added, "this is good for the people of Illinois and good for law enforcement."

Immigrants across the country are facing an increasing wave of xenophobic, misguided, and cynical attacks from political leaders at all levels, including President Trump. This legislation is a clear rebuke to those who willingly vilify the immigrant community to pursue a retrograde political and social agenda.

In the end, legislation that attempts to strengthen the bonds of trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement agencies while also upholding the United States Constitution is not, and should not, be dragged through partisan mud. The Illinois Trust Act is good public policy, plain and simple.

Sylvia Puente is the Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum, based in Chilcago. She can be reached at spuente@latinopolicyforum.org.

The NiLP Report on Latino Policy & Politics is an online information service provided by the National Institute for Latino Policy. For further information, visit www.latinopolicy. org. Send comments to editor@latinopolicy.org.