Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a law last night that would place strict limits on how local and state police can interact with federal immigration officials.
The law, as relayed by ABC News, bars Illinois law enforcement from “searching, arresting or detaining someone solely because of immigration status, or because of so-called immigration detainers.”
Local authorities would still be able act on federal arrest warrants and communicate with immigration officials if there’s a valid criminal warrant.
Rauner said at the bill’s signing that the decision wasn’t an easy one for him to make.
The first-term Republican governor was told not to support the legislation.
However, Rauner said he became convinced after spending months talking to community leaders and law enforcement officials.
“This took months and months of difficult negotiations,” he said, speaking at the signing event in a predominately Mexican neighborhood. Rauner expressed his hope that the law would let Illinois take another step toward “continuing to be a welcoming state.”
While the law doesn’t shield immigrants from federal immigration officials to the same extent as sanctuary city policies, it still puts Rauner on rough political ground. Many top-ranking Republican officials and figureheads from Washington have embraced the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, with Texas Governor Greg Abbott having signed a bill that bans sanctuary cities entirely and allows police to request immigration documents at traffic stops.
Rauner’s supporters and political backers say the law will help make Illinois safer while protecting immigrants from federal agents.
The law – SB31 – was reviewed by the Illinois State Police and Attorney General’s office before being signed into effect.
“It’s obviously a benefit to an undocumented person to know the police are not going to be putting them under suspicion everywhere they go,” said Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, one of the bill’s Democratic sponsors. “There are also benefits to law enforcement.”
The benefits of sanctuary policies have been hotly contested and skewed as controversial by President Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Both men have portrayed cities like Chicago and Philadelphia as hotbeds of crime, led by men and women more interested in being politically correct than serving their residents.
However, advocates of the policies say protecting immigrants from the constant threat of deportation helps lower crime rates and can help law enforcement police communities.