This is crazy. Using an “it’s not our job” excuse, the Milwaukee Police Department now has a policy that police officers will not ask about immigration status.

“Community activists” say that people who are stopped for traffic violations or crimes shouldn’t be asked about immigration status because it’s “unrelated.” (I don’t know how often the breaking of federal laws is deemed “unrelated” and therefore police should turn a blind eye.)

It’s not just Milwaukee that’s doing this. Other police departments are caving to the pressure to not ask about immigration status.

Since when do police agencies decide which federal laws it will abide by and which they will not? Will they start ignoring federal drug crimes next? How about bank fraud? That’s often a federal crime. Will police stop asking about it when investigating other crimes?

As long as illegal immigrants are breaking the law (and they are – hence the word “illegal”) I don’t think they deserve to have police look the other way. Everyone is scared about public relations with various communities, but the law is the law.

This is the Milwaukee Police Department’s most recent policy on immigration issues, last updated in April. According to the policy, immigration status is only questioned in violent crimes, suspected terrorism, street gang crimes or other limited cases.

A. The enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws is primarily a responsibility of the federal government, particularly the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Accordingly, the Milwaukee Police Department shall not undertake immigration-related investigations and shall not routinely inquire into the immigration status of persons encountered during police operations. This prohibition does not preclude the Department from cooperating with federal immigration officials when requested, or from notifying those officials in serious situations where a potential threat to the public is perceived.

B. A person’s right to file a police report, participate in police-community activities, or otherwise benefit from police services is not contingent upon their citizenship or immigration status. Consequently, Department members shall not question any person about his or her citizenship or immigration status unless that person is reasonably believed to be involved in one or more of the activities identified in (E) below, or when such information is needed pursuant to arrest processing [completion of the Arrest Detention Report (PA-45), etc.].

C. Department members shall not request passports, visas, “green cards,” or other documents relating to one’s immigration status in lieu of, or in addition to, standard forms of identification such as a driver’s license, state identification card, etc. Immigration related documents shall only be requested when standard forms of identification are unavailable, or when the member is proceeding under (E) below.

D. Police members shall not contact, detain, or arrest a person solely for a suspected immigration violation unless such contact, detention, or arrest is in cooperation with and at the direction of federal immigration officials.

E. Police members shall not inform federal immigration officials of the whereabouts or behavior of any suspected illegal immigrants or foreign visitor, except when the immigrant or foreign visitor:

Is arrested for any violent felony.

Is arrested for a terrorism-related offense, or is otherwise reasonably suspected of involvement in terrorism and/or subversive activities.

Is arrested for any offense involving the entry or fraudulent assimilation of undocumented foreigners into the country, or is reasonably suspected of participating in an organized venture to bring or fraudulently assimilate undocumented foreigners into the country.

Is a previously deported felon.

Is reasonably suspected of participating in criminal street gang activity.

F. Only federal immigration officials can determine a person’s immigration status; therefore, citizens wishing to report immigration violations shall be referred to the local office of the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at (414) 297-1571.


  1. Lee D 10/08/2007 at 10:31 am - Reply

    ” Everyone is scared about public relations with various communities”

    Hey, this may seem like a radical idea, but how about if people want their communities to be accepted, they should actually legally be part of the community? Crazy talk, I know.

  2. Tracy 10/08/2007 at 10:31 am - Reply

    I don’t know. Sounds pretty radical to expect law-abiding behavior!

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