DuPage County Board (District 4) candidate Christopher Zaruba denied Saturday that his father, outgoing DuPage County (Illinois) Sheriff John Zaruba, ordered the end of DuPage’s policy of fully honoring detainer requests by the federal agency I.C.E. (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) for jailed illegal aliens — and refused to accept copies of FOIA’d 2017 emails documenting the new policy — in a tense interaction with this writer Saturday.
The younger Zaruba was attending a League of Women Voters candidates debate at Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Prior to his debate with other District 4 County Board Republican candidates, this writer was distributing copies of the FOIA’d (Freedom of Information Act) emails along with a statement (reprinted below). I gave one to County Board member and candidate Grant Eckhoff and explained its contents, and Eckhoff politely accepted it and said he would read it later.
Unbeknownst to me, the younger man standing next to Eckhoff was Christopher Zaruba. When he heard me explain the documents to Eckhoff, Zaruba said that the Country Sheriff did not change the ICE detainer policy.
“There’s full cooperation with ICE,’ he said. I responded that FOIA’d emails from the Sherff’s Office show there was a change ending FULL cooperation with ICE detainers. Those emails attribute the change to Sheirff John Zaruba, per the following excerpt from Sgt. Tim Schoenenberger to ICE personnel:
“Effective immediately, per Sheriff [John] Zaruba, we will no longer be holding inmates with the detainers ICE sends. If someone is being release from the [jail] facility, these detainers will NOT be a reason to hold them. Efforts shall still be made to contact ICE of the [subject’s] impending release, and if they can arrive at our facility before they are released, we can still transfer them into ICE custody. Their release, however, cannot be delayed for the purpose of ICE picking them up.”
In the exchange with this writer, Christopher Zaruba repeatedly insisted that there was no end to “cooperation with ICE.” But the issue at hand was not the end of all cooperation with the federal agency, but that the Sheriff reportedly terminated FULL cooperation with ICE by no longer honoring the ICE detainers, which make it easier to apprehend and vet criminal illegal aliens.
After the younger Zaruba repeated his assertion that I was wrong because the “Sheriff’s Office is cooperating with ICE”–and my response that DuPage Sheriff John Zaruba had changed the policy of full cooperation–I pointed to the FOIA’d 2017 emails from the Sheriff’s Office that accompanied my statement. I offered them to him but he refused to accept the documents. Later I learned that his young man who bitterly refused to consider this evidence was not only an attorney but the son of Sheriff Zaruba himself.
Apparently blood loyalty overrides a fair consideration of the facts. I ended my interaction with Zaruba by telling him something to the effect: “So you’re making a claim about the ICE detainer policy but you refuse to even look at contrary evidence.”
Other candidates at the Glen Ellyn debate, like Eckhoff, gladly accepted the documents and said they would consider them. Paula McGowan, running for County Board-District 4 against Zaruba, told me that she had heard about the FOIA’d emails and she said with indignation that Sheriff Zaruba and others in the department “had kept this hidden for a year.” I also gave my statement and the documents to two other candidates, Craig Chinchilla and Ron Almiron, without issue.
The subject of Sheriff Zaruba’s unreported ICE detainer policy change did not come up in the Republican primary Sheriff’s candidates’ debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters that preceded the County Board debate, between James Mendrick and DuPage Undersheriff Frank Bibbiano. Reached by phone last week, Mendrick strongly criticized Sheriff Zaruba’s sudden 2017 ICE detainer non-cooperation order and said he was stunned to learn that it had occurred one day after a pro-illegal immigration protest at the Sheriff’s Office. Queries about the 2017 ICE detainer policy change by this writer to Bibbiano (who has been endorsed by Sheriff Zaruba), have not been answered.
But the issue did come up in the Board debate. In answering a question about DuPage’s growing drug crisis, Chinchilla said [see the 1:00 mark in the video]:
…another area that’s related to the heroin epidemic is immigration and also people that are here illegally. A lot of people don’t know this, but the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office in February of last year–six months before Bruce Rauner signed the [Illinois] Trust Act –actually made DuPage Country a sanctuary country. So if we’re going to talk about public safety and the heroin epidemic, we need to keep these people out or at least detained so everyone can vet them properly.
The Illinois Trust Act to which Chinchilla referred is a bill signed into law by Gov. Rauner August 28, 2017 that similarly reduces, statewide, cooperation with federal immigration authorities. As Chinchilla made his comments about making DuPage a “sanctuary county” for illegals, Christopher Zaruba, seated three candidates to the right, smirked in disgust.
The following is a statement I issued Saturday on the Sheriff Zaruba-ICE detainer issue:
Statement by Peter LaBarbera, Naperville resident, on Sheriff John Zaruba’s Order to Not Honor I.C.E. Detainers on Jailed Illegal Immigrants
My name is Peter LaBarbera. I am a 15-year resident of Naperville, Illinois, in DuPage County, married, with five voting children, who grew up as a boy on a home on County Farm Road, just down the street from the seat of county government. I was outraged to learn through FOIA’d (Freedom of Information Act) emails that longtime and outgoing DuPage Sheriff John Zaruba reportedly ordered a change in County policy of non-cooperation with I.C.E. (Immigration Control & Enforcement) detainers of jailed illegal immigrants, on February 17, 2017–just one day after his Office was protested by radical “progressives” who demanded amnesty for illegals.
I.C.E. detainers merely request that law enforcement hold imprisoned illegal immigrants for a short period (not more than 48 hours) so they can vet them for potential deportation. We are talking about jailed illegal immigrants who may have committed serious crimes—and Zaruba’s order made it more difficult for I.C.E. to detain these individuals. I have attached copies of the FOIA’d emails here. I was stunned not only that Sheriff Zaruba would take it upon himself to change this common-sense policy, which protects the safety of DuPage citizens, but that he would do so apparently to appease far-left protesters (including radical Green Party activists and socialists) who picketed his Office the day before.
This is not Cook County nor Marin County, home of San Francisco. This is DuPage County, where I thought preserving law-and-order and protecting actual United States citizens was the top priority of my elected officials. Why was this action taken without proper debate and the engagement and deliberation of DuPage’s duly elected public servants?
As a DuPage citizen and voter, I demand further investigation into this troubling Zaraba order—which somehow was kept secret from the public for a year—even though other people serving in law enforcement knew about it while regular citizens like me were left in the dark. (The Sheriff’s 2017 capitulation to leftist, pro-illegal-immigration activists came six months before Gov. Rauner signed a bill into law that similarly makes it harder for federal immigration authorities to apprehend and detain criminal illegal aliens.)
What did Zaruba protégé Frank Bibbiano, who is running on a pledge to “balance transparency with the public and media while protecting … the safety of our citizens,” know about the anti-I.C.E.-cooperation edict? Did he have a role in it? What does Bibbiano’s opponent in the race for Sheriff, James Mendrick, have to say about it?
We, the voting citizens of DuPage County, deserve far better than this from our elected officials.
March 10, 2018