Rauner, DACA dismantling impacts law enforcement

Gregory Harutunian for Chronicle Media

The Waukegan-based HACES. offices have seen increased numbers in customers, as Congress is tasked with forming a youth immigration program. (Photo by Gregory Harutunian/for Chronicle Media)

Complications from immigration reform have also spread into the law enforcement sector, as Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Trust Act making the detention of individuals by police agencies solely upon their immigrations status, illegal albeit exempted through a warrant issued by a judge. The Sept. 4 action, coupled with the next day announcement by the Trump administration to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program creates a boondoggle for law enforcement.

The circumstance was highlighted by the case of Niceforo Macedo-Hernandez, 46, arrested Aug. 9, on misdemeanor domestic battery charges. Despite having a stay on his U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement case, he was denied release Sept. 1, on bond. County officials indicated taking a deliberate path in light of the new legislation and its potential implications.

A statement by McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim, said, “We have a public act, less than a week old with a sweeping effect that has yet to be interpreted by any court. Our objective, at this point, is to move slowly and cautiously, with public safety as our foremost consideration, consistent with constitutional responsibilities. The defendant in question is charged with a crime of violence, which makes us even more reluctant to make hasty decisions.”

The department’s Communications specialist, Lorie Hendrickson, was unavailable for comment.

The Trump administration in February announced plans to begin mass deportations of illegal immigrants and a complete dismantling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, although the shape and scope of the actions was not formally been vetted. The Sept. 5 announcement to halt the program and reject further applications, also left a time-window renewal for two-year work permits.

The administration also placed the task of fashioning a new program in the hands of congressional leaders to address DACA children, within the next six months. The executive-authority program was created in 2012, by President Barack Obama, to protect the children of undocumented aliens brought into the United States illegally, from deportation.

The U.S. Decennial Census Survey, conducted in July 2010, showed a total population of 308,760 in McHenry County. The Latino population was listed at 11.42 percent, or 35,249 people. The figure was almost double, from 2010, which was 35,249.

“What happens in the future remains to be seen, and how it will affect those people that are undocumented,” said Maria-Elena Jonas, CEO for the Waukegan-based Hispanic American Community Education and Services. “Some parents are fearful, and are signing custody papers for their children in case they don’t return home. The documentation is now paramount, and where they were previously afraid to take action, they are coming forward.

HACES is a nonprofit agency that provides social services and guidance in navigating the process of citizenship, assistance, and programs that address naturalization while offering steps toward beginning the process. While based in Lake County, it has seen an increase in clientele from other areas of northern Illinois.

“This is what our mission statement is about…citizenship and assistance for all ethnic groups,” she said. “With the new state law, and the changes to DACA, these are different areas to chart. We don’t know how this will evolve, we hope with a positive resolution.”