Six Walworth County residents awaiting deportation process
Six Walworth County residents were taken into custody and await deportation as part of an effort by state and federal officials to detain illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in the United States.
Officials from the Attorney General's Office on Wednesday said a total of 34 criminal illegal immigrants in Wisconsin were located and taken into federal custody. The operation was conducted in conjunction with U.S. Immigrations and Enforcement agents over two weeks ending Friday.
The criminal illegal immigrants taken into custody were living in Delavan, Lake Geneva, Whitewater, Milwaukee, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Jefferson, Kenosha, Neosho, Racine and Waukesha.
Of Walworth County's six, three lived in Delavan, two lived in Lake Geneva, one lived in Whitewater.
Attorney General's Office spokesperson Bill Cosh said their criminal backgrounds include fourth-degree sexual assault, causing injury by operating while intoxicated and possession of cocaine.
Cosh said he could not release their names or information about the place of conviction.
"These are all individuals with criminal history in the United States, not necessarily in Wisconsin," Cosh said. "They may have committed a crime in Illinois and be in Wisconsin."
Cosh said the Attorney General's Office and authorities statewide work on a referral basis to identify illegal immigrants convicted of crimes.
Walworth County Sheriff David Graves said deputies in his department run names through a database and send the ones identified as illegal immigrants to state authorities.
"ICE is the only agency with authority to deport criminals," Cosh said. "Often, they don't have the staff to locate them. Sometimes they want to do it, but they don't have the resources or the manpower.
"We have offered to work with them to track down these individuals."
In an e-mail to the Gazette, ICE spokesperson Gail Montenegro wrote that the six Walworth County residents are Mexican nationals and will be placed into deportation proceedings.
"A person can be removed in a matter of days if they waive their right to a hearing in immigration court," Montenegro wrote. "Or a removal case can take months, sometimes years, due to a variety of factors, including whether their attorney requests any continuances in the case or if they appeal the case once a judge renders a decision."
Montenegro wrote she doesn't know the specifics of each case, but the majority of criminal illegal immigrants remain in federal custody. Some are kept based on the nature of their criminal or immigration offense. Others may be eligible for bond or supervised release pending their removal hearing, she wrote.
ICE contracts space at jails in Kenosha and Dodge counties, Montenegro said.
The 34 criminal illegal immigrants had convictions dating back a decade, Montenegro said. Along with the six Mexican nationals in Walworth County, there were also nationals of Chile, El Salvador, Yugoslavia and Laos, she wrote.
"Promoting public safety is part of ICE's core mission," Montenegro wrote. "Removing these individuals from our communities and from the county reduces a significant public safety vulnerability."