CHICAGO - Within an hour of Illinois' Governor Bruce Rauner signing into law a bill making Illinois the "latest sanctuary state," the national watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request with the governor's office, looking for information about who the governor did and did not meet with before signing the bill into law Monday.
Illinois Review asked Judicial Watch's Michael Bekesha why the national group was interested in Illinois' new state law.
"For 10 years now, Judicial Watch has been interested in promoting the rule of law when it deals with illegal immigration. Around the country, we have been interested in sanctuary cities and sanctuary states. And Illinois has now become the latest sanctuary state, so we were interested in how that happened," Bekesha said on the phone Monday afternoon.
Governor Rauner's office says the Northern District of Illinois federal court has found that immigration detainer orders from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be illegal. SB 31 reinforces that court ruling.
Judicial Watch said their interest in the bill and how it came to be is two-fold.
"I think its safe to say that federal court ruling is probably a little more nuanced than the governor wants everyone to believe," Bekesha said. "Even so, Judicial Watch is taking a look at it to ensure federal law is complied with. Because as everyone knows, federal law is the supreme law of the land and states can't promote their own immigration policy."
The other point on the FOIA request is the need for families of the victims who have died at the hands of non-citizens in America illegally to find justice.
"Brian McCann and several other individuals have been victims of violence to their families perpetrated by criminal aliens. Brian himself has a heartbreaking story that he's willing to tell the public. We're wondering why the Governor refused to meet with him before he signed this bill. We're wondering to see who the governor met with before he signed it."
Judicial Watch says they've been successful in past similar FOIA requests, and they hope the same is true with this request. They make all the information they obtain available to the public.
The request to Rauner's office is specific:
Today, Governor Rauner signed the Illinois Trust Act. It is Judicial Watch’s understanding that many organizations and individuals sought to or did speak with the Governor and his staff about whether he should have signed the legislation. Judicial Watch is interested in records about with whom the Governor and his staff met as well as with whom the Governor and his staff did not meet.Therefore, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, Judicial Watch requests that the Office of the Governor provide within five days copies of the following:
- Records of meetings concerning the Illinois Trust Act. Such records include, but are not limited to, invitations, lists of participants, agendas, minutes, or any other records distributed before, during, or after the meeting related to the meeting;
- Communications with non-governmental organizations or individuals concerning the Illinois Trust Act.
- Internal Office of the Governor communications concerning the Illinois Trust Act.The time frame for the request is from May 31, 2017 to August 28, 2017.As a not-for-profit, educational foundation, this request is not being made for a commercial purpose.Please let me know if you have any questions.Thank you.