Illinois Anti-Detention Law Goes to Seventh Circuit

Press Releases

February 2, 2022

IRLI shows why appellate court should strike it down

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals showing the deep unconstitutionality of a new Illinois state law banning the operation of privately-operated immigration-detention facilities. A number of Illinois counties with such facilities in them, wishing to stop the release of alien criminals, sued to stop the law, but an activist district court upheld it.

As IRLI points out in its brief on appeal to the Seventh Circuit, the detention of criminal aliens and illegal aliens is called for in numerous provisions of federal immigration law. Indeed, that law imposes on the federal government a statutory duty to arrange for the detention of aliens during the removal process. For decades, the government has done so using facilities operated by private contractors.

Thus, in the words of the Seventh Circuit in an earlier case, the law does “major damage” to the “clear and substantial federal interest” in housing detainable aliens in the state of Illinois. It therefore violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. The law is also invalid because it discriminates against the federal government and its contractors.

“Anti-borders political activists passed this law to cripple the enforcement of federal immigration law in Illinois,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “And that’s just what makes the law unconstitutional. In our balanced system of dual sovereignty, states have no power to block the federal government from using methods it has lawfully selected to enforce federal law. We hope the Seventh Circuit grasps the obvious unconstitutionality of this law, and gets rid of it by reversing the district court.”

The case is McHenry County v. Raoul, No. 21-3334 (Seventh Circuit).

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