MADISON, Wis. – U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan has released the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s response to his Freedom of Information Act request made last October. He believes the agency intentionally left out Madison and Dane County when letting local law enforcement agencies know about the upcoming four-day operation.
Pocan asked the agency for information on its communication with local law enforcement and the criminal records of those taken into custody following the arrest of 83 people, including 20 in Dane County, during a targeted operation Sept. 21-24.
The agency’s response is dated Feb. 27, 138 days after Pocan filed the request.
It is 411 pages, but almost 300 of those pages are fully redacted.
Pocan said ICE did not respond to several of his requests, but the records do show no criminal history for at least 39 of the 83 people arrested.
Although ICE officials originally claimed they were only arresting dangerous criminals, in a release days after the arrests, ICE officials said, “During targeted enforcement operations, ICE officers frequently encountered other aliens illegally present in the United States. These aliens are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and, when appropriate, they are arrested by ICE officers.”
ICE’s response includes emails from as early as Aug. 2 to and from 15 of Wisconsin’s county and local law enforcement agencies, asking for their assistance during the four-day operation.
Immigration officials contacted the Janesville Police Department to request use of their facility to “manage arrests until the Kenosha County Jail can arrive and assume custody of those arrested.”
On Sept. 19, the agency’s point of contact in the Janesville Police Department sent ICE phone numbers for Dane, Rock, Green, Chippewa, Eau Claire, Trempealeau, Taylor, Marathon and Clark counties’ law enforcement agencies so officials could inform them about the impending operation.
A handwritten note in the response said all counties were contacted, but email records show no conversation with Dane County officials, and Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said ICE did not let him know they would be in the area.
Another handwritten note on an email with the subject “Madison PD Attempt to Contact — Courtesy Call” claims an ICE official left a message for someone in Madison, letting them know about the operation.
The note says, “He called me back at cell in a.m. of Friday 9/21. He said he hadn’t checked his messages.”
A spokesperson for the Madison Police Department said ICE did not follow the proper protocol to alert them of the agency’s presence in the city. Instead, an ICE agent called the 911 dispatch center.
Both Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and Mayor Paul Soglin have been vocal about the fact that they were not contacted by ICE ahead of the operation. They did not know about it until arrests were made.
LIVE: Rep. Pocan is holding a news conference to release the response that officials from the ICE sent him regarding the Freedom of Information Act request that he made in October.
Posted by News 3 Now / Channel 3000 on Monday, March 11, 2019
Pocan’s office believes the handwritten portions of the records could’ve been written after the emails were requested.
On day three of the operation, records show an ICE official emailing the Janesville Police Department again to ask if the chief would like to be included in a press release.
“I know there is a radical population in the Dane are and no doubt, some of that population may bleed over to the Rock County area and specifically Janesville… I am not sure, but it is in that area,” the immigration official said in the email.
Pocan said ICE failed to properly respond to some of his requests, including a request for privacy release forms to allow for detainees to seek assistance from members of Congress and other relevant advocates.
He also asked for documentation of protocol followed when making arrests, including whether health and medical needs of the detainees’ or their live-in dependents were taken into account. ICE did not respond to this request.
ICE also did not respond to Pocan’s question about the existence of a possible satellite office space in Madison or other locations beyond the official field office in Milwaukee.
Pocan said he will be filing an appeal to seek further information within the next 90 days.