Jus­tice Depart­ment: County com­plies with im­mi­gra­tion laws

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - NEWS - DON BEHM

Mil­wau­kee County is in com­pli­ance with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion law and does not face the loss of fed­eral grant funds from the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Act­ing As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Alan Han­son said Thurs­day.

The depart­ment found no ev­i­dence that the county hin­ders en­force­ment of im­mi­gra­tion laws, de­spite a ma­jor­ity of the County Board stat­ing a de­sire to be a so-called sanc­tu­ary county.

The board adopted a res­o­lu­tion in Fe­bru­ary to re­strict in­for­ma­tion shared with the U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment Agency, known as ICE.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment de­ter­mined the Sher­iff’s Of­fice is not fol­low­ing the board’s re­stric­tions, so the county is in com­pli­ance, Han­son said in a let­ter to County Ex­ec­u­tive Chris Abele.

“I be­lieve that Mil­wau­kee County has found the right bal­ance between com­ply­ing with all ap­pli­ca­ble state and fed­eral laws to en­sure pub­lic safety, pro­tect­ing the civil rights of all our res­i­dents, and treat­ing our im­mi­grant com­mu­nity with the re­spect and dig­nity they de­serve,” Abele said Thurs­day. The Jus­tice Depart­ment cer­ti­fi­ca­tion was ex­pected, he said.

“I’m sure they have also been able to ver­ify that nei­ther Mil­wau­kee County nor any other ju­ris­dic­tion is ‘crum­bling un­der the weight of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and vi­o­lent crime,’ as had been stated falsely by U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions in his ear­lier press releases,” Abele said.

If the board’s Fe­bru­ary res­o­lu­tion had been fol­lowed, the county would have been at risk of los­ing an av­er­age of $6.3 mil­lion a year in fed­eral pub­lic safety grants, the county said.

The Sher­iff’s Of­fice spends nearly $1 mil­lion a year on en­force­ment of fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws and rou­tinely com­plies with ICE de­tainer re­quests, ac­cord­ing to Cor­po­ra­tion Coun­sel Mar­garet Daun.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment de­ter­mined this week that Chicago and Cook County, Ill., as well as New York City, New Or­leans and Philadel­phia, have poli­cies that may vi­o­late fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws.

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