Federal immigration agents used the Janesville Police Department to process arrestees during a series of arrests last September.
Emails between Janesville police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were included in a response by ICE to a Freedom of Information Act request from Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.
Pocan released the documents Monday.
ICE agents reported arresting 83 Wisconsin residents last fall, including some in Rock County. The agency has never identified those arrested or said what happened to them.
The documents released Monday indicate the arrests occurred Sept. 21-24.
The documents list four arrested in Rock County, all Mexican nationals. Most information on the documents was redacted, however, including the names.
The only Janesville arrest was of a 36-year-old man. The other three were from Beloit, ages 29, 33 and 63.
Pocan complained he made numerous requests of ICE for information on those arrested, and when ICE finally sent him more than 400 pages of information last week, nearly all of it was redacted.
ICE sent a lengthy explanation for the redactions. Two of its major arguments are that some of the documents would have a chilling effect on ICE employees expressing their opinions internally and that revealing information would violate personal privacy rights, which “outweigh any minimal public interest in disclosure of the information.”
ICE spokeswoman Nicole Alberico told The Gazette in an email that “it would be inappropriate” to comment on a Freedom of Information Act request. She did not elaborate.
Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said ICE used Janesville booking facilities to process arrestees and also used the department’s garage.
Moore said he allowed the use of the facilities as he would for any other law enforcement agency.
Janesville officers had nothing to do with the ICE operation, and no local records were kept of ICE activities, Moore said.
“They just brought people in, processed them and moved them on to another location,” Moore said. “I really didn’t have anything to do with the operation.”
All names on the emails were redacted.
An email from ICE sent Sept. 23 to Janesville police said: “We have one more day of operations. Everything has been fine. We appreciate the assistance provided. Obviously, at the end of this op, ICE will send out a press release. I know initially you (sic) chief was interested in being included. Does he still want to be included. I know there is a radical population in the Dane County area 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. …”
Someone speaking for Moore responded that the chief did not want to be on the news release.
Moore said Monday there was no need to be included.
“It was kind of a non-event,” Moore said.
One email indicates ICE intended to “manage arrests” at the Janesville police station “until the Kenosha County Jail can arrive and assume custody of those arrested.”
A document labeled “Order to detain” for Kenosha County lists people with the same ages as those arrested in Rock County.
The document lists criminal history for arrestees that match up with those arrested in Rock County, including “driving under the influence liquor” for the 63- and 29-year-olds, battery for a 36-year-old and “NC” for a 33-year-old.
A Pocan spokesman said he did not know what “NC” means.
An email sent to Marathon County authorities about being in a press release was similar to the one sent to Janesville. It stated, in part: “I know there is a radical population in this country, in some areas more than others, that is extremely hostile towards ICE.”
Some so-called sanctuary cities limited their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement in recent years, and some churches and other organizations have sought to protect undocumented immigrants from ICE. It’s not clear if that’s what the ICE official meant by “radical population.”
Pocan on Monday threatened to sue ICE if the agency doesn’t provide more records.
Pocan’s analysis of the documents showed 39 of the 83 arrestees had no criminal history.
Pocan said ICE is deporting “members of our community with minor offenses or no criminal history.”