Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson recently confirmed to the ACLU that despite community opposition, he renewed his department’s agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to use deputies in the Waukesha County Jail as immigration agents on July 1.

Under an agreement called a “287(g) agreement” because its authorized by section 287(g) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, federal immigration authorities deputize local law enforcement personnel to enforce federal immigration law.

”As he did when he first applied for 287(g), the Sheriff renewed the agreement to be part of President Trump’s deportation machine very quietly and without public input,” stated Tim Muth, staff attorney for the ACLU of Wisconsin.

In April the ACLU of Wisconsin requested records from the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department in an attempt to learn how this partnership is operating, yet the Department refused to produce a single document until after the Sheriff had already extended his partnership with ICE. As a result, the 287(g) agreement was renewed without any public oversight.

In October 2017, the ACLU of Wisconsin discovered and publicized a previously undisclosed application by the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department to participate in the 287(g) program of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). Particularly troubling was this statement by the Sheriff in the cover letter to his application:

“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 moved forward and signed the 287(g) agreement with ICE on February 16, 2018. That commitment was then renewed it on July 1 of this year.

Waukesha County is the only county in Wisconsin to have entered a 287(g) agreement with ICE. Renewing that agreement continues the path of lending Waukesha sheriff deputies to the federal government as immigration enforcers, when the Department should be focused on improving relations with the immigrant community in Waukesha and other local needs.

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Susan Ruggles, Joe Brusky, and Nick Hansen