It’s been six months since ICE arrested more than 80 people around the state. And US Rep. Mark Pocan has waited almost as long to hear any information from the immigration enforcement agency.
About two thirds of the documents ICE handed over to Pocan are blank. ICE says those pages are all exempt from the Freedom of Information Act for various reasons.
Pocan says ICE won’t say for sure whether they’re operating an office in downtown Madison.
“Any agency that does that is operating in a rogue manner,” says Pocan. “That’s not serving the public interest to withhold info as simple as that.”
Pocan also found that at least 39 of the 83 people arrested over the four-day period in September had no criminal history. Of the others, he says they’re mostly lower level offenses.
“What you’re not going to see is human trafficking, what you’re not going to see is gang activity that we hear over and over again.”
Local law enforcement also says ICE didn’t contact them ahead of the September raids. But Pocan’s record request shows ICE did contact several other counties in the state, some starting more than a month before the arrests began.
According to some emails ICE turned over to Pocan, officials described a “radical population” in Dane County. They wrote the radical population could be hostile toward ICE.
“To say that the community and law enforcement are radical is extremely false. We have never countered the mission of federal agency, nor will we,” says Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. “Every other federal law enforcement agency that carries out a federal mission shares that with local law enforcement. One, to ask for assistance if it’s needed. And two, so if something happens local law enforcement is aware of their presence.”
Aissa Olivarez is an immigration attorney based in Dane County. She’s representing four of the people who were picked up in the county during the September raids. All of her clients are back with their families in Dane County and awaiting trial.
But she says some of their family members who were picked up in September have been deported. “They have made their lives here and they don’t know if they’ll be able to continue that,” she says.
Pocan is filing an appeal to try to get more information from ICE. He says he is prepared to sue the agency if he doesn’t get the information he’s looking for.