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Letter: Lake County Sheriff says they will not enforce federal laws on immigrant community

File Photo | Lake County Sheriff John D. Idleburg

Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg and dozens of law enforcement nationwide have signed a letter saying their agencies will not participate in federal immigration enforcement in hopes of gaining trust from the immigrant community.

“In the wake of the August 3 El Paso mass shooting as well as the other acts of mass violence we continue to see around the United States, Sheriff John Idleburg, along with the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, wish to remind Lake County we are here for everyone, whether you reside in Lake County or are visiting,” the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday morning.

“For these reasons, Sheriff Idleburg supported and signed the attached open letter to our immigrant communities,” the department added.

“Dear Immigrant Communities:

As members of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force (LEITF), we want to assure you and communities across the country that local law enforcement serves to keep everyone safe. Following the tragic Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso, Texas, and raids the following week in Mississippi, we know that many immigrants in our communities are afraid. We are here to serve all communities.

Our primary job is to maintain public safety. To do that, we need your trust. We want you to feel safe in our communities and comfortable calling law enforcement to report crimes, serving as witnesses, and asking for help in emergencies. When you feel safe and comfortable reaching out to us, we can keep everyone safer.

We need and are committed to protecting everyone in our communities. We cooperate with federal law enforcement to respond to threats in our communities — when our safety is at stake. But immigration enforcement is, first and foremost, a federal responsibility. We want to focus our limited state and local resources on threats to public safety and security.

Your trust is paramount to state and local law enforcement’s ability to maintain public safety. Please continue to call on us. We are here to serve everyone who lives here and committed to keeping everyone safe.”

The letter was signed by dozens of law enforcement officials from across the United States that are on the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force.

“A significant pillar of being able to effectively keep our community safe is having the trust of those we serve.  I believe the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has a great reputation in our community and that’s largely because of the excellent personnel we have on staff.  Even though we have earned the trust of most in our community, a large amount of concern exists in our immigrant communities,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said that those concerns consist of fear in reporting crimes, coming forward as a victim of crime and coming forward as a witness of a crime out of fear for being arrested based on their immigration status.

“The job of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office is to keep our community safe. We accomplish this by enforcing only Illinois State Law and Lake County Ordinance. We do not enforce federal laws, including federal immigration laws,” Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said.

“Our efforts need to be focused on our local community, we have no desire or resources to enforce federal immigration laws. We need our immigrant communities to trust us in order for us to effectively do our jobs of keeping people safe,” Covelli said.

Covelli said that the sheriff’s office works with local and federal law enforcement everyday and if someone has an active warrant or they committed a crime, they will be arrested regardless of their immigration status.

Read the letter in English or read the letter in Spanish.


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