On May 6 the county Finance Committee voted in favor of a resolution to end McHenry County’s contract with the Federal Marshal’s Service to hold Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) detainees, meaning it will be voted on by the whole board on May 18.
“In a solidly Republican county, where the incentive for the Sheriff’s Office to continue jailing and transporting detainees on behalf of ICE is almost singularly financial, it is significant that the county’s Finance Committee that has signed off on ending the contract and is presenting it favorably to the whole board,” according to Sandra Davila of the Coalition to Cancel the ICE Contract in McHenry County.Sandra Dávila brought the message of the Campaign to Cancel the Contract to the big immigration justice march and rally in Chicago on May 1. The local campaign is a model for efforts across the state of Illinois.
In the state of Illinois, privately operated Federal ICE detention centers are legally banned, yet McHenry County is home to one of three county jails that maintains an active contract and working relationship with ICE. Currently, the Illinois General Assembly is considering a bill that would prohibit law enforcement agencies from cooperating with ICE (SB667), mandating the end of these contracts.
Across the US, county jails cooperating with ICE are receiving demands to end cooperation. The most recent successful campaign ended last month in heavily-Democratic Essex County, New Jersey, with the board pledging to have all ICE detainees removed from their facility in Newark by the end of August 2021.
In largely red and suburban/rural McHenry County, local advocates have labored, highlighted injustices, fought for transparency, and asked for the ending of this contract for years. They have held rallies, spoken publicly at all county meetings, published numerous letters to the editor with their local paper, and gained support from across the state of Illinois.
That campaign will intensify as the final vote approaches. On Thursday, May 18 the whole Board will meet as the Committee of the Whole at 8:30 am in the Administration Building, 667 Ware Road in Woodstock to discuss the issue for the first time together. Many members who are not members of the two committees that considered the resolution are not yet fully informed on the issue. The Coalition will present speakers during public comments.
This Saturday, May 15 there will be the last of a series of public events held around the county—a Roadside rally in Huntley at Deicke Park along Route 47 from noon to 1:30.
Finally before the Board meets on Tuesday, May 18 supporters of the Campaign to Cancel the ICE Contract in McHenry county will rally at the Administration Building entrance starting at 5:30 pm.
If the resolution passes that night, the McHenry County Board will terminate their contract with ICE as of November 1, 2021.