By Antonio Olivo, Chicago Tribune reporter
Gov. Pat Quinn and state lawmakers Wednesday cast Illinois as a sympathetic voice in the nation’s volatile immigration debate with two actions that run counter to a wave of pro-enforcement measures approved or under consideration in Arizona and other states.
Quinn’s office on Wednesday sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security declaring the state’s formal withdrawal from Secure Communities, a federal deportation program that targets hardened criminals but has also been used against illegal immigrants arrested for misdemeanor crimes.
Nearly a third of all illegal immigrants deported out of Illinois under the program have never been convicted of any crime, the letter stated, citing federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement figures. Quinn’s office suspended the state’s role in the program in November amid concerns about its effectiveness.