Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Waukesha County Sheriff's Office Applies For 287(g) ICE Partnership To Enforce Federal Immigration Laws

The Waukesha County Sheriff's Office in May applied to enter into a 287(g) ICE partnership agreement to enforce federal immigration laws.

By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.

October 25, 2017

Waukesha, WI - On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin (ACLU-WI) reported that earlier this year, Eric Severson, the Waukesha County Sheriff had filed a letter and application of intent to partnership with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) program. The ACLU-WI says, that Sheriff Severson applied for 287(g) "to let some of his deputies (4) become immigration enforcers.  The deputies would become part of President Donald Trump's "immigration force" which seeks to deport millions of immigrants currently living in the US." Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) checked the ICE website and so far, no law enforcement agency or sheriff's departments from Wisconsin are listed nor have been approved to enter into partnership with ICE under the 287(g) program. The 287(g) is a failed program, which in many court cases, especially involving Arizona's former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio who was found guilty of contempt of court, used 287(g) to allow his deputies to illegally profile and target Latinos as undocumented immigrants.
In March 2017 during a U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Hearing on the Border and Immigration, Sheriff Severson testified that he continued to collaborately work with the Milwaukee area ICE office in sharing information about those undocumented immigrants processed at the Waukesha County Sheriff's Office, but doesn't abide by ICE detainer requests for lacking probable cause to hold someone beyond the allowed time under the local law and the litigation consequences for holding someone beyond allowed under the law.
Severson stated during the Senate hearing, "We are concerned about civil liabilities, we are concerned about some - and I am not an attorney, Senator but we are concerned about some litigation that Sheriffs have faced whereby there is questions as to whether or not the detention or the detainers contain sufficient probable  cause for us to detain folks solely on the basis of those detainers and the frustration that Chiefs and Sheriffs of Wisconsin are feeling that there doesn't seem to be any movement to clarify how ICE is going to solve the problem of giving us the sufficient probable cause so that we can make those detentions without fear of litigation."
"And for the most part we're communicative with ICE and we are trying to share information as best we can and we are limiting our add detentions to very short periods of time to give them an opportunity to resolve, there are legal issues but one of the frustrations that we have experienced is that ICE will not take responsibility for developing clear defendable probable cause for those detentions.
"The challenge of working with ICE under these detainers exists when we have no other underlying criminal offense that we can hold an individual on. So in other words if we make a arrest in Waukesha county and we have probable cause to detain them for a particular charge and we also have immigration status issues and we notify ICE of that and if they say we would like to retain that person for our purposes, that's not going to be an issue as long as they come to our jail and take care of their business before we are forced to release the individual on local charges.
"Where it becomes a challenge is when we have exhausted the reasoning or the rationale for detaining an individual on our local charges or other precedent charges and ICE would like us to detain them solely on the basis of their detainer and there have been several lawsuits that have been working their way through appeals that have suggested that local law enforcement doesn't have the authority to detain an individual based solely on an ICE detainer and again I am not an attorney but the argument generally is that the ICE detail is not sufficient to process in itself and that's all.
"In the case of Wisconsin, I'm happy to report that we don't have a lot of issues of illegally present foreign nationals that are committing a lot of criminal activity in my county. With that being said, for the most part, we are very blessed because we have a localized office in Milwaukee which is very close to us and we have a good working relationship with but I will also report to you that Sheriffs throughout the nation don't necessarily have that immediate access to ICE officials.
"So resourcing can become a challenge, the time it takes to report to, respond to a detainer, that can be a challenge, beyond the obvious policy questions on whether or not, there is an aggressive and in vigorous effort on part of ICE to work cooperative deal with these problems."
When asked by U.S. Senator Claire Conner McCaskill (D-MO) during the Senate hearing, if Sheriff Severson planned to join in partnership with ICE under the 287(g) program? Sheriff Severson responded, "At this time, I don't have the resources to participate with that nor is our community structure such that I don't know if that is necessarily a high priority for us right now and again I am fortunate enough to report to you today that the instances of criminal activity of illegally present immigrants beyond their status is relatively uncommon in my County and generally in Wisconsin, it is less common than some other communities."
Apparently, Sheriff Severson decided to apply for the ICE 287(g) partnership after all, according to the ACLU-WI. The ACLU-WI confirmed, that they filed an open records request and it had obtained a copy of a previously undisclosed May 15, 2017 application from the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department to participate in the Delegation of Authority Program pursuant to Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. Under the 287(g) program, ICE deputizes local law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration laws, something which goes outside their normal work and responsibilities to enforce the laws of state and local jurisdictions. 
In his cover letter to the application, Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson wrote: "The Waukesha County Sheriff's Office is willing, prepared and committed to assist in [ICE's] effort to investigate, apprehend and detain aliens pursuant to the statutes….My office and staff will make this program a priority in our jail and welcome additional ICE partnerships."
The Waukesha Sheriff says he wants to have a "jail agreement" with ICE.  A jail agreement would allow local law enforcement to act like federal immigration agents within the county jail. This results in sheriff's deputies questioning individuals held in the jails about their immigration status, preparing documents to charge them for immigration violations, and ordering the continued detention of persons thought to be subject to deportation.
According to the 287(g) program ICE application, the Waukesha County jail takes into custody more than 11 additional immigrants each month.
The ACLU-WI says that a 287(g) partnership between local law enforcement and ICE results in;

• Damaged trust between the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department and local immigrant communities in the county: When local law enforcement engages in federal immigration enforcement, local immigrant communities believe the police are there not to protect and serve them, but instead to detain and deport them. The result is that crimes go unreported, and witnesses decline to step forward. There have been recent cases of domestic violence survivors dropping their cases for fear of immigration exposure. Having local law enforcement partner with ICE breaks the bonds needed to keep communities safe. No one should hesitate to call 911 for fear that they or their family will be deported.

• Diversion of time and resources from public safety mission: While deputies are occupied enforcing federal immigration law (in other words, doing someone else's job), they neglect their traditional policing responsibilities. This imposes a public safety cost on Waukesha County. Further, because local law enforcement agencies are responsible for personnel expenses (including salaries and overtime) for these officers, 287(g) agreements also impose a financial cost on the county and its taxpayers.

• Racial profiling and discriminatory policing: Because local law enforcement is not trained in federal immigration law, these agreements often lead to discrimination and racial profiling. Local police often rely on impermissible factors like ability to speak English or appearance. The ACLU and other organizations have documented extensive 287(g) abuses of this type throughout the country.

Also former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. had applied for ICE partnership under 287(g), but ICE hasn't approved it nor Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) has approved such partnership. Governor Walker has yet to appoint a new Milwaukee County sheriff to replace Clarke for the remainder of his term. It is not known yet, if the new appointed sheriff by Governor Walker will accept 287(g) or reject the ICE partnership that Clarke requested.

In the ICE 287(g) program application on question number 14, the Waukesha County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) answered "Yes" when asked, if they accept ICE detainer requests and on question number 26, they answered that 1.3 detainers per month are honored by the WCSO.
When asked what were the 5 categories in which the WCSO come into contact and detain suspected undocumented immigrants, the WCSO identified the five violations that most undocumented immigrants are detained for, included;

• Operating while intoxicated
• Operating without a license
• Bail jumping - misdemeanor
• Operating after revocation
• Resisting or obstructing an officer

(For further review of the WCSO ICE 287(g) application see attached images of ICE application by the WCSO)

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