Wisconsin Supreme Court: Sheriff Clarke exempt from releasing immigration records

MILWAUKEE  — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that Milwaukee County's sheriff does not have to release immigration detainer forms for people he's holding at his jail for federal authorities.

The 4-2 decision Friday reverses lower-court decisions ordering Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to provide the forms under the state's open records law following a request from an immigrant advocacy group.

The court says the records are exempt from release because of federal law.

What many are calling a victory for Sheriff Clarke, is not being labeled a loss for the immigration activist group Voces de la Frontera -- even after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in Clarke's favor.

"It's a dangerous, and dark, decision," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Voces de la Frontera. "It, completely denies the public the right to be able to see these records at a time when they are trying to implement mass deportation programs."

Voces de la Frontera

The decision reverses a lower court ruling, which had ordered Clarke to release the information. Milwaukee-based Voces de La Frontera filed the request in February 2015. The group says it wanted to know who the sheriff was holding for immigration enforcement authorities, whether any had criminal records and if anyone being detained was a U.S. Citizen.

It wasn't immediately known whether the group would appeal.

"They're trying to set up a fast-track system of moving them now anyone through the county jail to immigration and now under a complete cloak of secrecy to kind of quickly expedite their removal," said Neumann-Ortiz.

Voces de la Frontera

Sheriff Clarke posted his reaction to the court's ruling on Facebook.