What exactly is ICE doing in Peoria County?
Some of our readers may have seen a story online last week from the money-in-politics site Sludge, picked up by Block Club Chicago, the successor to the well-respected DNAInfo journalism organization.
It looked at recent contracts by and payments from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which has been in the news the last few weeks amid the separation of families at the border.
To the interest of some local folks, Peoria County appeared on the interactive document with a $250 payment.
What, we wondered, could that have been for?
First: It has nothing to do with the recent controversy. In fact, it's for something that dates back to before Donald Trump became president.
"We haven't had any recent involvement with ICE," says Dan Hunt, the county's director of probation services.
He can't discuss specifics of the case, because it relates to at least one juvenile who was housed at the county's Juvenile Detention Center. But it occurred at some point in 2016. The payment was received in January or February of 2017, Hunt says.
In short, if any law enforcement authority in the county comes across a juvenile with an active warrant, the youth is housed at the JDC until the agency wanting them decides whether or not to have them extradited — the agency has to come get them — or let them go.
"We're not making any decisions," Hunt says. "We're acting on a judicial warrant."
That would've been the case here. And the county charges other law enforcement agencies $125 per person per day to house someone. So ICE paid enough to account for housing one person for two days or two people for one day before coming to get them.
Hunt says neither he nor the JDC typically follows up with any agency afterward to find out the disposition of the case — or for that matter has the ability to, because it'd be a juvenile case wherever they're taken to.
"We're following the same process as if it's a U.S. citizen who had a Tazewell County warrant" who is held before someone from a police agency across the river crosses it to get them, Hunt says.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.