State Supreme Court Favors Sheriff Clarke On Immigration Case

Immigrant Rights Group Says Decision Is Harmful

Voces de la Frontera
Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled against an immigrant’s rights group in the group’s effort to get more information about immigration detainees in Milwaukee County.

The justices voted 4-2 to overturn rulings by two lower courts that said Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke had to disclose federal requests to temporarily hold some inmates at the county jail. The Supreme Court said there was an exception to disclosure under Wisconsin’s open records law.

Clarke took to Facebook on Friday afternoon to write, “It’s time for the plaintiffs, Voces de la Frontera, to embrace the rule of law.”

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But Voces Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz calls the ruling harmful.

“According to today’s decision, if Clarke’s deputies pull over a mother for a broken tail light and detain her for immigration, the public has no right to know. Her children have no right to know.” Neumann-Ortiz said. “This decision is a dagger in the heart of Wisconsin’s open records laws.”

Nayeli Rondin of Voces said immigrant families will become more fearful.

“It’s going to make them feel more unsafe and make them feel more fearful to even contact their local police officers for anything really,” Rondin said. “Because they’re going to be like, ‘OK, is this officer going to help me, or see me as a threat?’”

Milwaukee-based Voces de la Frontera said it’s looking into a potential appeal of the state ruling.