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Will County Board member wants to know Sheriff's policy for undocumented immigrants

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Steve Balich[]

During a meeting of the Will County Board’s Legislative and Policy Committee, member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, asked about what the sheriff’s office does when they arrest someone who happens to be an undocumented immigrant.

Balich wanted to know whether the sheriff’s department calls Immigration and Customs Enforcement to alert officials that they’ve arrested someone who is undocumented.

“[It’s] really important that I understand exactly what you guys do,” Balich said during the meeting, addressing a member of the sheriff’s office. “When you arrest an illegal, what do you do? I don’t know, and what happens to that illegal?”

Balich brought up the case of Miguel C. Luna, a 37-year-old Joliet resident and undocumented immigrant who pleaded guilty last month to raping three women on the Illinois & Michigan Canal path in 2015 and 2016.

Balich said he was referred to the Trust Act, a law state legislators passed last year that prohibits state or local law enforcement agencies from arresting, searching or detaining someone solely based on their citizenship or immigration status. Balich said the text of the law is “kind of ambiguous.”

Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley said he is OK with the law because local law enforcement should not have to do the job of federal immigration agencies. He said his department must follow the law, and that if he cannot hold someone because of their immigration status, then he will not. Plus, he argued, enforcing immigration is ICE’s job.

“If I have to do everybody’s job as the sheriff, then why even have [ICE]?” Kelley said.

The Department of Homeland Security and ICE can request local or state law enforcement to hold an undocumented person in custody, but the local law enforcement agency is not required to honor the request.