November 17, 2017
Dear Sheriff Severson:
We the undersigned write to respectfully urge you to not enroll the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office in the 287g program, which would give your deputies the authority to investigate immigration status and separate Waukesha families.
Under 287g authority, your deputies would be able to detain community members for deportation without regard to their community and family ties, including those who have never been convicted of a crime. 287g separates immigrant families, causing immense hardship and traumatizing children. Bringing 287g to Waukesha would make everyone less safe. Thousands of community members would be afraid to report crimes, including victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The 287g program has a record of increasing discrimination and racial profiling where it’s been implemented. Counties in Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina have been found by the courts to have used 287g programs to engage in racial profiling. Nationwide sheriffs have arrested Latinos for minor traffic violations and even for fishing without a license, only to place them in deportation.
Your own application for 287g acknowledges that the most common infractions committed allegedly by immigrants in Waukesha are offenses related to driving without a license. Despite your claim to the contrary, if you implement 287g in Waukesha, hardworking Wisconsin residents driving to work, the grocery store, or to their children’s school will be the victims.
In your public statements, you have said that you want to bring 287g to Waukesha to avoid lawsuits brought by community members detained unlawfully under unconstitutional ICE detainer requests. However, adopting 287g makes your office far more likely to be subject to civil rights complaints and lawsuits, possibly costing the county untold millions of dollars.
Your adoption of 287g will waste Waukesha County’s public dollars, while making us less safe. Some counties have been found to have annual expenses of over $1 million due to 287g, none of it reimbursed by the federal government. Mecklenberg County, North Carolina, spent over $5 million to set up the program. According to a Government Accountability Office report, 62% of jurisdictions enrolled in 287g were not reimbursed for any costs associated with the program.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, cost his local government over $70 million in lawsuits over racial profiling related to 287g. His actions led to boycotts of Phoenix and Arizona, devastating the local economy and turning his city into a pariah. We are very concerned that immigrant customers, students, parishioners, workers and their families will not come to Waukesha if you implement this program, and our economy will suffer as a result.