ACLU of Wisconsin stands up for immigrants, and Milwaukee County changes policy


Several weeks ago, we wrote about the ACLU of Wisconsin’s report regarding Wisconsin’s sheriff’s departments, detailing the ways many of them were cooperating with ICE to perform unconstitutional detainers of immigrants. We are happy to announce that as of August 21, 2018, in response to a letter from the ACLU, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office has declared it will not hold suspected undocumented persons solely on the basis of an ICE detainer request.

The letter included ACLU of Wisconsin’s report, as well as citing in detail how holding suspected undocumented individuals beyond what is justified by their arrest, just so that ICE could more easily apprehend them, is a violation of the 4th Amendment. The letter emphasized how serious this infringement can be, making sheriff’s offices potential targets of litigation and steep financial liability, on top of the serious breach of trust and blow to their reputation in the communities they serve.

ICE detainers are a strictly voluntary request to hold detainees up to an addition 48 hours, and they are “generally issued using Form I-247A and are often accompanied by other paperwork,” so they convey a sense of being official orders. However, when they are not “accompanied by a warrant signed by a judicial officer,” which is often the case, they grant no actual “arrest authority” to law enforcement, and complying with them will put law enforcement in the position of having conducted an unconstitutional search or seizure. To add salt to the wound, the federal government does not reimburse jails for detainment costs, nor will ICE share in the responsibility should local officials face legal consequences.

Fortunately for Milwaukee County, the ACLU made the Sheriff’s Office aware that cooperating with ICE along these lines is bad for the community, bad for their office, and most importantly, unconstitutional. Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office should be commended for their decision to uphold the Constitution in the face of .

To see Milwaukee County Sheriff’s new policy regarding ICE detainers and the ACLU’s letter, please see:

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