President Preckwinkle Urges Washington to Change Policy on ICE Arrests in Courthouses

Today, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle called on the Trump administration and members of Congress to advocate against civil immigration arrests in courthouses, which pose a threat to public safety. 

Last month, the Trump administration issued new guidance directing immigration officers to make civil arrests in courthouses and claimed it would improve public safety. Last week, a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections was wrongfully detained at the Cook County courthouse in Skokie when he appeared for a minor traffic violation.

This shift in federal policy likely achieves the opposite of what the Trump administration claims. Such detentions intimidate immigrants from engaging with the criminal justice system, which Cook County has an obligation to maintain for the benefit of all residents. By increasing civil immigration enforcement in courthouses, the Trump administration could discourage immigrants from cooperating as witnesses, appearing for trial or engaging with local law enforcement. A lack of participation from all individuals is a threat to the greater safety of all residents. 

President Preckwinkle today issued a proclamation urging federal officials to designate courthouses as “sensitive locations,” a designation already applied to schools, hospitals and places of worship. This designation would encourage Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers from making civil arrests at these locations.

The proclamation is available for download, and the President’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

FULL REMARKS (as prepared for delivery)

I was disheartened last week to see the temporary and wrongful detention of a DREAMer — a rule-abiding beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order.

Christian Gomez Garcia, who came to the U.S. as a small child nearly 25 years ago and has been a DACA recipient since 2012, was subjected to detention that began with an arrest at the Skokie courthouse.

I support DREAMers and urge lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to come together and pass common-sense legislation to protect them and provide them with a pathway to citizenship. 

Furthermore, I am concerned that the Trump administration’s new shift in policy — to prioritize courthouse arrests — could threaten public safety by discouraging individuals from engaging with the criminal justice system, from serving as witnesses to showing up, as did Christian, to a court date for a minor traffic violation. 

We are all safer when everyone in Cook County feels comfortable using our court system and believes in justice.

Make no mistake, these measures from the Trump administration are designed to intimidate immigrant communities, to force people back into the shadows. And one of the most important things a public official like me can do in this precarious moment in time is to let immigrant communities know that we support them.

Today, I issued a proclamation reaffirming my belief that immigration officers should refrain from engaging in civil immigration enforcement actions within County courthouses and calling on the President and Congress to recognize courthouses as “sensitive locations,” free from civil immigration action. 

We must preserve the integrity of the Cook County court system by making it a place where all people feel they can trust in and cooperate with local authorities. 

One last note about “DREAMers.” Oftentimes, when we use political shorthand, we either deliberately or inadvertently dehumanize the people we’re talking about. 
DACA recipients or DREAMers, young people who were brought to this country as children and who have only known America as their home, are more than just the titles we’ve given them.

They are students. They are doctors. They are lawyers. They are military service members. They are friends. They are neighbors. They are loyal sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. They are dedicated contributors to our county. And they are, by almost every measure, Americans.

Deporting them, after our country promised to protect them, is wrong. And our County would be worse for it.


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