Waukesha County is the only county in Wisconsin whose deputies are being trained to partner with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We have another chance to try to end that effort. The “287(g) agreement” between the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department and ICE expires on June 30, 2019, unless both the Sheriff’s Department and ICE agree to extend it. The county should decline to renew that agreement.
On May 1, 2018, hundreds of protesters from around Wisconsin gathered in Waukesha as part of “A Day Without Immigrants” because of the decision by Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson to become a partner with ICE. Under this “287(g) agreement,” (authorized by section 287(g) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act), federal immigration authorities can deputize local law enforcement personnel to perform immigration enforcement functions.
In the cover letter to the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department application to participate in the 287(g) program, Sheriff Severson stated:
“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.”
Although large swaths of the local community objected, Sheriff Eric Severson proceeded forward and signed the agreement with ICE on February 16, 2018.
Under the agreement, Waukesha County Sheriff deputies are being trained by ICE and now have the authority, according to ICE, to detain immigrants and to sign the papers which commence deportation proceedings against immigrants. The ACLU of Wisconsin has asked Sheriff Severson for records to show how many times his deputies have begun the deportation process, and how much information the Department is sharing with ICE. But however many times it is, it’s bad policy for local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE. As we’ve seen throughout the country, immigrants who fear law enforcement are less likely to come forward as victims or witnesses to crimes – which makes our communities less safe.
We urge Wisconsin residents – especially Waukesha County residents – to contact Sheriff Severson and ask him to withdraw from the 287(g) agreement when it ends in June – not to renew or extend it.
The ACLU of Wisconsin is a non-profit, non-partisan, private organization whose 13,000 members support its efforts to defend the civil rights and liberties of all Wisconsin residents. For more on the ACLU of Wisconsin, visit our About Us page of this website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.