WOODSTOCK – Seventeen-year-old Melissa Macedo of Crystal Lake spent hours Friday trying to get her father out of jail.
On Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Trust Act into law. The measure prohibits local and state police from searching, arresting or detaining a person simply because of their immigration status. However, McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim’s office refused to allow many people with questionable status to post bail and leave jail Friday.
“(What the jail is doing) it’s unconstitutional, it’s illegal, and the McHenry County sheriff should be ashamed of himself,” defense lawyer George Kililis said.
Macedo waited eight hours to post $500 bail for her father, Niceforo Macedo-Hernandez, 46, of Crystal Lake, although a correctional officer told her that her father would not be released. He was in fact informed, according to his defense lawyer, that he was going to be transferred and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials would pick him up no later than Tuesday.
Kililis said he plans to file emergency motions in order to have the case heard before Macedo-Hernandez’s transfer date.
Prim did not respond to messages left Friday evening as to why Macedo-Hernandez’s case was moving along so quickly.
Macedo-Hernandez was arrested Aug. 9 on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge and has since been in custody, on the charge and an immigration hold, according to jail records.
Prim released a written statement Friday about why inmates still were being held because of questionable immigration status.
“We have a public act less than a week [old] with a sweeping effect that has yet to be interpreted by any court,” Prim said in the statement. “Our objective at this point is to move slowly and cautiously with public safety as our foremost consideration, consistent with constitutional responsibilities.”
Prim said he is working with State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally, and they have requested guidance from federal and state authorities. The jail has had a federal contract with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement for many years.
Macedo went to the jail with $500 cash in hand earlier this week, after the law was passed and based on the consultation of her father’s lawyer, Kililis. She said an unnamed uniformed correctional officer told her that her father would not be released because he had an immigration hold. Macedo also said the jail official told her that if Macedo-Hernandez were to post, bail he would immediately be sent to Chicago and deported.
While McHenry County officials want further investigation, in neighboring Lake County, prisoners are being released after posting bail.
Lake County, where 28 people in custody could post bond according to the Trust Act, released its first inmate Tuesday, according to Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran’s office. Luis Camacho Vasquez, 32, was arrested Aug. 19 on drug possession charges. He remained in jail custody on the charges and an immigration hold until his mother was able to post bail, the sheriff’s office said.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Christopher Covelli said Sheriff Mark Curran supports the Trust Act.
Kililis said the law is clear as to what local law enforcement agencies and jail officials are supposed to do in these situations. He filed a motion Friday after finding out Macedo was unable to post her father’s bail in order to have his client released based on the law stated in the Trust Act.
The case was continued until Wednesday so prosecutors could review the motion. Kililis expressed concern that his client may be deported before the issue was brought up again in court.
First Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud said he is reviewing and researching the act, in addition to reaching out to state and federal authorities for further guidance. Zalud declined to comment on if his office objected to Macedo-Hernandez being released on bond before their next court date.
Kililis said he understood why prosecutors had to review their position, but believed his client should be released on bond in the meantime.
The defense lawyer later filed an emergency motion after Macedo again tried to post bond for her father Friday morning and was told “they were processing paperwork” for several hours.
“The defendant in question is charged with a crime of violence, which makes us even more reluctant to make hasty decisions,” Prim said, referencing Macedo-Hernandez’s case. “The defendant, through his attorney, has agreed to allow us additional time to investigate the matter further by continuing the motion until next week.”
Judge Robert Wilbrandt heard the emergency motion Friday afternoon and ordered that Macedo be allowed to post her father’s bond. This did not mean however that Macedo-Hernandez was released.
Assistant State’s Attorney Tom Cahill told the court the defendant was being held because his “legal status is unclear.”
Police can communicate with immigration agents and only hold someone for immigration reasons if there is a valid warrant, according to the law.
Kililis’ legal partner, Elizabeth Vonau, said the jail continuing to hold Macedo-Hernandez, even though his daughter posted bail, is a direct violation of the Trust Act.
Macedo’s family are not the only ones in McHenry County not able to immediately post bail.
Hector Valencia of Cary also was at the jail Friday to post bail for his cousin, Diego Valencia-Garcia. Valencia-Garcia was arrested Thursday on charges of drug possession and driving under the influence. He also has an immigration hold, according to jail records. Valencia said he had the necessary $1,028 to post bond but was told through an intercom that his cousin could not be getting out of jail Friday.
“You know he’s not coming out right?” a correctional officer said through an intercom.
“No,” Valencia replied.
“He has an ICE hold,” the jail official said.
Valencia said outside the jail waiting room that he did not know about the Trust Act but felt it was wrong what the jail was doing.
“I feel it’s not right for the people,” Valencia said.
Valencia said he would talk to a lawyer about the situation in hopes of getting his cousin out soon.
The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office would not provide the number of individuals in custody on criminal charges and an immigration hold. A request for the information was filed Friday.