Newly elected Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas announced Tuesday that the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office will no longer cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unless ICE agents have a warrant against a suspect detained in the Milwaukee County Jail.
"Sheriff Lucas has established a policy ensuring that, absent a valid judicial warrant, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office is not sharing information with ICE regarding persons detained in the Milwaukee County Jail," Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Faithe Colas said in a news release.
In August, the Sheriff's Department announced that it would no longer honor ICE requests to detain illegal immigrants who would otherwise be released from custody. Instead, it would notify ICE that an illegal immigrant inmate was about to be released.
"This new policy thereby preserves Milwaukee County’s continued eligibility for federal grant moneys essential to key County public safety and law enforcement operations, while protecting the Fourth Amendment rights of all inmates," then-Sheriff Richard Schmidt said in a statement at the time.
The policy change came at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union, which threatened legal action against the Sheriff's Department.
Lucas defeated Schmidt in the Democratic Primary in August and went on to win the general election in November. He was sworn in as Sheriff in January.
His new policy shift means that ICE need to obtain a warrant in order to learn whether inmates housed in the Milwaukee County Jail are in the country illegally, thus making immigration enforcement actions against those inmates very difficult.