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CHICAGO (CBS) – Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle lashed out Thursday at critics of a county ordinance that some have blamed for allowing an illegal immigrant to flee the country after he was released on bond in a fatal drunk driving case.
Preckwinkle said opponents of the ordinance are “fear-mongering” in the wake of news reports that the suspect fled to Mexico after he was released from jail.
The dispute stems from a new county ordinance stopping the county jail from honoring requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs officials to continue detaining suspected illegal immigrants after they post bond.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports
It’s the latest development in the case of Saul Chavez, who was allowed to bond out of jail on a DUI charge and then fled the country.
Days after Chavez was arrested, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials issued a detainer request, asking that they be notified when Chavez posted bond and continue holding him for up to 48 hours so agents could arrest him for possible deportation.
But the new county ordinance requires the jail to ignore such requests.
This all revolves around the death of a pedestrian, William McCann. Chavez was charged with running over McCann while driving drunk.
The director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has written a letter to Preckwinkle, saying the county’s ordinance undermines public safety.
Preckwinkle lashed out about the criticism on Thursday.
“I’m angry because there are people who are trying to use this complicated issue to divide our communities. This type of fear-mongering is distasteful and has no place in the public policy arena,” she said.
Preckwinkle said she is launching a six-month study of how bonds are set, believing the court system too often fails to properly determine which suspects are a danger to the public.