ICE detainees are no longer allowed to be held in the McHenry County Jail after a federal court allowed a provision in the Illinois Way Forward Act to go into effect this past week.
The Illinois Way Forward Act, which prohibits jails in Illinois from housing ICE detainees, went into effect on January 1.
Senate Bill 667 — also called the Illinois Way Forward Act — was passed 36-19 last May and signed into law by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in August.
SB 667 says that no law enforcement agency and state or local government may enter into or renew any contract to hold or detain someone for federal immigration violations.
The law required all law enforcement agencies and governments in the state to terminate their agreement to house ICE detainees by January 1, 2022.
McHenry, Kankakee and Pulaski counties previously had contracts with ICE to house immigrants at their county jails.
McHenry County was paid $95 per day per ICE detainee.
The law also says that law enforcement agencies cannot provide information to federal immigration agents or transfer any person into their custody.
Law enforcement is not able to ask anyone about their immigration status under the new law.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said in September he filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of McHenry and Kankakee counties challenging the Illinois Way Forward Act.
“While perhaps proceeding from good intentions, this symbolic law does nothing other than serve as a demonstration of discontent by those in Springfield with current federal immigration policies and will only harm the very immigrants it purports to help,” Kenneally said.
The state’s attorney’s office said most detainees held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the McHenry County Jail previously resided in Illinois, Wisconsin or northwest Indiana.
“The termination of these contracts will not result in the release of detainees. Rather, they will merely be transferred to other ICE facilities as far away as Louisiana,” the state’s attorney’s office said.
In December, U.S. District Court Judge Philip G. Reinhard dismissed the case with prejudice.
McHenry County filed an appeal with the Seventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals.
The appeals court issued a stay order in late December extending the January 1 deadline to terminate ICE contracts until January 13, allowing the McHenry County Jail and Kankakee County Jail to continue housing ICE detainees while the court considered the county’s appeal.
The appeals court on Wednesday issued an order denying any further stay, allowing their latest stay order to expire on Thursday.
“We conclude that the counties have not made a “strong showing” that they are likely to succeed on the merits,” the court said in their ruling.
“We also conclude that the counties have not shown that they are threatened with imminent irreparable harm or that the balance of harms or the public interest favors an injunction pending appeal. […] Illinois’s public interest in enforcing its statute weighs against an injunction pending appeal,” the court added.
During a McHenry County Board meeting on Thursday, McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler said the county was notifying ICE that it would be exercising its 30-day termination clause following the appeals court order.
ICE will be required to remove all detainees from the McHenry County Jail by mid-February.