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ACLU report finds increased racial profiling in Wisconsin, deportation

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Undocumented immigrants are vital to Wisconsin's economy. By some estimates, they make up 80% of full time workers on Wisconsin dairy farms and they are essential employees for local restaurants, factories and construction projects. But, undocumented workers are especially vulnerable.

In Wisconsin, some sheriff departments have teamed up with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE. A recent report from the ACLU of Wisconsin finds that these partnerships have increased racial profiling and created a jail to deportation pipeline.

"We found that there's basically a pipeline, a framework for taking people from county jails across the state and putting them into removal proceedings, ultimately being deported. So [this is] something that started in the Obama administration and even earlier, but was certainly still strengthened and enlarged during the Trump administration. And what we see is that it still exists today, even under the changed policies of the Biden administration," says Tim Muth, staff attorney for the ACLU of Wisconsin.

Muth says because of these partnerships, some jails in Wisconsin will hold individuals an extra two days if asked by ICE. Even if they paid their bail or their sentence is completed.

"That is something that we at the ACLU of Wisconsin believe is actually illegal under under Wisconsin law," says Muth.

Another thing the report finds is eight counties in the state have partnership agreements with ICE called 287G agreements. Seven of those partnership agreements were signed in 2020. "One thing that's important to note is that none of the other states that border Wisconsin had a single county where a sheriff has signed one of these partnership agreements," says Muth.

Muth continues: "Another thing we found is that 30 counties across the state participate in a program where they receive money from the federal government in return for providing information about undocumented persons who they have held in custody, and sometimes this amounts to tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars and gives them a real incentive to investigate undocumented [people]."

Muth explains that individuals who have gone through this pipeline are people who were booked and fingerprinted for something as simple as a traffic infraction. He notes that, "anytime you are given a traffic ticket, the deputy actually has a choice to make whether or not to bring you into the jail or just to write a ticket." So, with incentives in place the report finds these practices could increase or encourage racial profiling.

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Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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