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The Illinois Trust Act a Great Step Forward but Still Misunderstood by Some

By Rocio Velazquez Kato, Esq., Latino Policy Forum Immigration Policy Analyst

There was a big relief within the immigrant community in Illinois when the Illinois Trust Act was signed into law last August. The law, which stipulates that local police cannot comply with federal immigration detainers and warrants unless they are signed by a judge, was a signal that the state of Illinois was heading in a positive direction regarding respecting the rights of immigrants in Illinois.

A major component of the Latino Policy Forum’s mission is to inform the community and ensure the policies affecting them are clearly understood. In collaboration with the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois and the National Immigrant Justice Center, below is information the Forum hopes is helpful and will educate the community on the Trust Act:

What is the Illinois Trust Act?

  • The Trust Act is an Illinois law that was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Aug. 28, 2017
  • Places some limits on cooperation between Illinois’s police officers and jails and federal immigration enforcement.
  • The Act is meant to increase trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement agencies
  • Ensure that Illinois law enforcement agencies are complying with their legal and constitutional obligations to all Illinois residents

What does the Illinois Trust Act do?

  • State and local police cannot stop, search, arrest, or detain someone just because of their citizenship or immigration status.
  • Jails and prisons in Illinois cannot keep someone in jail longer than they would otherwise be held just because of an immigration detainer.
    • An immigration detainer is the document Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses to ask a jail or prison to hold a person for up to 48 hours after they would normally be released so ICE can come pick them up. A detainer is not the same as a warrant issued by a judge.  
  • Jails and prisons can communicate with ICE, BUT they cannot delay a person’s release to help ICE pick the person up

What the Illinois Trust Act does NOT do:

  • TRUST Act does not stop ICE from operating in the State of Illinois.
  • Local police can still comply with an ICE request to detain someone longer IF ICE provides local police with an actual criminal warrant.

Though there is no denying the Act was a great step forward in trying to build stronger relationships between immigrants in Illinois, the State and law enforcement officials, but some interpretations of the law have been inaccurate as well as misleading. The Forum’s mission is to set this record straight and in this era of alternative facts, we hope you’ll utilize this information when someone tries to skew the meaning or impact of the Trust Act.