MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office will no longer share information about people detained in the jail with federal immigration officials.
Sheriff Earnell Lucas recently announced that the office won’t offer information about detainees to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents unless there’s a valid judicial warrant, Wisconsin Public Radioreported. Lucas said he wants to avoid lawsuits that law enforcement agencies across the country have faced for holding detainees for an additional 48 hours to let ICE agents potentially take custody.
“One of the things we need to do in Milwaukee County is avoid costly litigation and judgment awards,” said Lucas, who took office Jan. 7. “It’s not politics. It’s the right thing to do.”
But Lucas’ policy is a significant departure from his predecessor, David Clarke, the county’s firebrand former sheriff who resigned from the post more than a year early and joined a political action committee that supports President Donald Trump. Clarke’s administration fully cooperated with ICE and even attempted to sign an agreement allowing deputies to perform the functions of ICE agents.
The county didn’t approve the agreement after pushback from community members and immigrant advocacy groups, including Voces de la Frontera.
The group’s spokeswoman, Jasmine Gonzalez, said Lucas’ policy change will help restore trust with immigrant communities.
Many crimes go unreported because those living in the country without legal permission fear deportation, she said.
“Folks were terrified to report crimes when they needed help from law enforcement,” Gonzalez said. “People who truly needed this support were unable to seek assistance because they were living in fear of having their lives shattered.”