WI Bar: Deportation Hold Requests are Exempt from Wisconsin Public Records Law

Federal immigration agencies can request that local law enforcement hold individuals for 48 hours after taken into custody, if subject to deportation. Recently, the state supreme court ruled those immigration hold requests are exempt from public records law.

In Voces De La Frontera v. Clarke, 2017 WI 16 (Feb. 24, 2017), a Wisconsin Supreme Court majority (4-2) ruled that the “immigration detainer” requests that the Milwaukee County sheriff’s office received from the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are “statutorily exempt from disclosure” under state public records law.

The majority’s decision reversed lower court rulings, including a three-judge appeals court decision that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. was required to produce unredacted copies of the immigration detainer requests to an immigrant rights group.