Effort to cancel ICE contract fails


With the public seating area filled to capacity, 80 seats set six-feet apart for COVID-19, the McHenry County Board voted strictly along party lines May 18 to maintain its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and continue housing illegal immigrants at McHenry County Jail.

The public commentary portion of the meeting was extended numerous times to allow all who signed up an opportunity to speak. Commentary, both from the public and by members of the board, delayed the vote until after 10 p.m.

Many boisterous opponents of the contract held up signs ranging from “CANCEL THE ICE CONTRACT TODAY” to the word “ICE” in red with a black circle around it and a diagonal line through the name. But not everyone in the audience was opposed to the contract.

Marlene, a McHenry County resident, pointed out that, with the crisis at America’s Southern border since Joe Biden was elected president, “We’re going to have more illegal immigrants coming in (to McHenry County) rather than less.”

Numerous opponents to the contract called supporters of the contract “racists.” William Olson suggested that board members who voted to keep the contract were “soiling their reputation.” And Peter Artenburg said that ICE is “a fascist enterprise.”

Tyler Wilke, the McHenry County Republican Party Chairman, said, “I don’t believe anyone here is against legal immigration.” He felt that people who came into the country illegally, and then committed other crimes while here, should be held accountable.

Larry Mason, a retired police officer, said Illinois has the fifth-highest number of illegals in the country and that those numbers are going to increase. “We cannot afford supporting people … who are here illegally.”

Joe Gottemoller (R-Dist 3), said that the arguments for canceling the ICE contact are “based on a false premise.” He said that the County Board does not have the power to resolve the immigration issue in the country.

Addendum: The Illinois Legislature has passed “Illinois Way Forward Act” restricting detaining of illegal aliens on behalf of ICE. The McHenry County Board is expected to challenge the law in court.