Illinois governor signs bill banning private immigrant detention centers

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) signed a bill Friday that bans private immigration detention centers in the state shortly before an expected Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation seeks to round up thousands of migrant families for deportation. 

The bill’s signing makes Illinois the first state to forbid such detention centers. Pritzker also signed legislation that bars local law enforcement agencies from engaging in federal immigration enforcement with ICE and allows undocumented students to receive certain grants and other aid at public institutions.  

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The federal government has increasingly turned to private detention centers to house immigrants, particularly close to the southern border, as it struggles to deal with a rise in migrants entering the country.

The Illinois Democrat cast the pieces of legislation as efforts to “protect Illinois’ immigrant community amid growing attacks from the federal government.”

“Illinois is and always will be a welcoming state,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Let me be perfectly clear: the state of Illinois stands as a firewall against Donald Trump's attacks on our immigrant communities. In the face of attempts to stoke fear, exploit division, and force families into the shadows, we are taking action.” 

The ICE operation set to begin Sunday is reportedly expected to target up to 2,000 families facing deportation orders in up to 10 cities with large immigrant communities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE defended the plan Saturday, tweeting “The people that Ice will apprehend have already been ordered to be deported. This means that they have run from the law and run from the courts. These are people that are supposed to go back to their home country. They broke the law by coming into the country, & now by staying.”

“When people come into our Country illegally, they will be DEPORTED!” he added in a subsequent tweet. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has already vowed to take “concrete steps” against the plan, directing Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to terminate ICE’s access to the Chicago Police Department’s databases related to immigration enforcement activities and speaking directly with ICE leadership in opposition to the operation.

“Chicago will always be a welcoming city and a champion for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities, and I encourage any resident in need of legal aid to contact the National Immigrant Justice Center,” she said Friday.