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McHenry County Board votes to keep ICE contract at McHenry County Jail

The McHenry County Board convenes for a regular meeting Tuesday to vote whether to cancel the county’s ICE contract. | Provided Photo.

The McHenry County Board voted Tuesday evening to keep the contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that allows the county jail to house federal detainees facing deportation.

In a 15-8 vote, the board voted against the resolution to cancel the contract by November 1.

The vote came following more than a year of discussion regarding the issue.

McHenry County has maintained a contract since 2005 with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house a number of federal detainees, the majority of which were for immigration issues.

Revenue from the contract is used to offset costs in the McHenry County Jail.

In 2015, the county board approved a modified contract that continued the relationship but on a month-to-month basis.

Calls to look into the county’s willingness to continue the contract resurfaced again in early 2020.

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McHenry County Board Chairman Michael Buehler, R-Crystal Lake, said that he supports the board’s decision to keep the contract in place.

“Tonight’s decision reaffirms our commitment to continue working in collaboration with our federal partners to ensure national security, border security, and public safety.”

“Immigration is a federal issue, and any decision made by the McHenry County Board regarding its ICE contract does not amend federal immigration laws as they relate to the detention of non-citizens. Without a mandate handed down from the federal government, which has the authority to change laws of this nature, our role is to adhere to federal statutes,” Buehler said.

Area residents who wanted the board to cancel the ICE contract packed into the board’s conference room and outside the government center Tuesday evening just before the vote.

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“County Board Rules were followed, and the public was given an ample opportunity to express their opinions. Board members heard the public comments and engaged in their own research to support tonight’s decision. I respect the process that led to today’s vote,” Buehler said.