Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights group, has won a legal fight in court against David Clarke, the Sheriff of Milwaukee. Clarke has been ordered to release to the group complete copies of I-1294 forms, rather than redacted versions.
In 2015, the Sheriff was asked by the group to release the forms sent to him since November 2014 by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement; those forms allow individuals to be held by local and state jails for up to 48 hours longer than is permitted by the criminal justice system. Eventually Clarke gave the group redacted versions of the forms that blocked out certain information, including immigration status, arguing that the open records law in Wisconsin gives him the right to choose whether certain information should be released and that in this instance the individuals concerned would be harmed by a full release.
However, the state appeals court agreed with Voces de la Frontera and a previous ruling made by a lower court and on Tuesday ruled that disclosure is favored by state law in Wisconsin, not least so that if federal law has been violated by the Sheriff the public can get to know about it.
The appeals court went on to state that Clarke did not demonstrate that any members of the general public would be put at risk by the full information being released. There has been no response as yet from the Sheriff’s office, but the group called the ruling a victory for the immigrant community in Wisconsin.