By W.D. Reasoner on November 13, 2011

This just in from our "Closing the Barn Door After the Horses Have Left" Department.

According to a Friday Chicago Tribune article, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart wants the County Council to amend a "controversial" ordinance prohibiting his office from notifying the Chicago field office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau when illegal alien arrestees are taken into custody for serious crimes. The ordinance goes so far as to also prohibit the sheriff's agency from honoring detainers placed by ICE officers against these individuals, even if ICE does discover that they have been taken into custody.

According to the article, out of 300 illegal aliens arrested by local police, over 100 have been released back onto the street already. Further, "[i]n that group of 300 are people charged with sex crimes, unlawful use of a firearm and attacking police officers. Those are just the kind of felonies that opponents to the county's immigration ordinance have highlighted in a rising tide of criticism." No kidding. What wouldn't be "controversial" about such an ordinance?

What the article does not mention is that it was because of Sheriff Dart's intransigent opposition to the ICE Secure Communities initiative, and his steadfast refusal to participate in that program, that things reached the present shocking state of affairs. However encouraging this most recent development may be, inquiring minds want to know: why the change of heart, Sheriff Dart?

  • Could it be because it is morally repugnant to release felons back into the streets of Cook County, no matter what their country of origin or citizenship? Well, it is repugnant, but that was true before too, when he was digging in his heels about the Secure Communities initiative, so our own gauge is that this probably wasn't his motive.

  • Could it be because it is against federal law to prohibit state or local law enforcement officers or agencies from communicating with ICE? Probably not. That law, too, has been in place for quite some time and is nothing new, nor is the statute unknown to Sheriff Dart and his staff. What is more, it's quite clear that the Obama administration doesn't give a hoot about state or local governments that obstruct immigration law enforcement – so far, the only governments sued by the U.S. Justice Department have been those which enact ordinances to assist the federal government in its efforts to enforce the immigration laws.

  • Could it be because of an uncomfortable spotlight trained on the sheriff all the way from Capitol Hill? On November 2, four prominent senators wrote to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to "take control of the situation" in Cook County and stop enabling these foolhardy county officials to continue letting criminal aliens threaten the well-being of county residents. The senators suggest that DHS also cease making payments to Cook County and other sanctuary jurisdictions who obstruct immigration law enforcement, as the Center has recommended also.

  • Or, finally, could it be that Sheriff Dart, the consummate politician, smells a lawsuit coming, if and when (more likely when) one of these released criminals commits murder or mayhem after being released back to the street, and the victims or their families take the Cook County Sheriff's Office to court so that it can be held responsible for its reprehensible negligence and indifference toward public safety?

You figure it out.