For a county leadership that denies it’s a “Sanctuary County,” when it comes to dealing with illegal immigration they sure are doing everything possible to substantiate that they are one.
Reported first by CBS 58 in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee County of Board of Supervisors is considering suing the U.S Department of Justice over its recent decision to crack down on the awarding of grants to cities and other municipalities who openly flout federal immigration law. In particular, the detainment and deportation of illegal immigrants, or the handing over of these cases to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The move would parallel one being done in Chicago. At stake is a $900,000 grant which Milwaukee County would lose for not complying with federal law.
Milwaukee County is one of at least 10 jurisdictions being questioned for refusing to follow 8 USC Section 1373, a law which prohibits government entities from refusing to share information with INS over the citizenship status of any individual.
The law specifically states, “Not withstanding any provision of federal, state, or local law, a federal. state. or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the immigration and naturalization service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”
At the heart of the issue is a 2012 resolution passed by the county board at the behest of radical immigrants’ rights group, Voces de la Frontera, which laid out protections for undocumented immigrants and openly called for county law enforcement to use “broad discretion” in cases related to working with ICE authorities.
Shortly after President Donald Trump’s inauguration and immigration executive orders in February, the county board passed another resolution put forward by former county board chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, this one called a “Safe Harbor resolution” by the local media which stated the following:
Milwaukee County’s new resolution states – in part, “that no matter the threats made by President-elect Trump, Milwaukee County will remain a safe county for all immigrants no matter their current status of documentation, and we will not turn our back on the men and women from other countries who continue to make this county great, Milwaukee County will always prioritize keeping families together and united in all situations.”
Passing these two resolutions has raised the ire of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a strong supporter of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, who believes the deeds and actions of the county board are not in compliance with federal law. As concern grew internally in the Milwaukee County Courthouse about a potential federal crackdown on sanctuary cities, County Council Margaret Daun issued an opinion in June 2017 stating that the county bureaucracy was in compliance and that the passed resolutions were non-binding; a rationale Clarke believes is flawed since he still must deal with the political activists for trying to enforce the law.
Sheriff Clarke has faced intense criticism from groups like Voces for his plan to deputize sheriff’s deputies as informal ICE agents. Under such a plan, known as Section 287 (g), these deputies are allowed to enforce immigration violations. Since then, Voces has held nearly non-stop protests against Clarke and any county supervisor it deems as “anti-immigrant.” This was demonstrated in the spring when the annual “May Day” protest in Milwaukee turned into a march against Clarke where buses from 12 different cities came to protest the sheriff.
As it now stands, the county board has approved a resolution asking for $50,000 to pursue legal action against the Justice Department. So at the same time the county’s legal council and select county supervisors will be arguing in court and to the media it is in compliance with federal law, it has others doing all it can to undermine that case with resolutions and political gestures.
That’s a lot to placate one activist group.