Pocan: ICE stonewalling on records request regarding September raids

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MADISON (WKOW) — U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan announced Monday he has received documents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement related to a series of raids throughout Wisconsin, but says the response is inadequate.

ICE arrested 83 people across Wisconsin, including 20 in Dane County and five in Rock County from Sept. 21-24, 2018.

On Sept. 28, 2018, after numerous attempts to contact the agency, Pocan met with ICE officials in his Washington, DC office to ask for information about the arrests and the agency’s contact with local law enforcement.

On October 12, 2018, after two weeks of requesting information with no reply, Rep. Pocan submitted a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

He finally received the information today, however, Pocan says much of the information he was looking for was missing or redacted.

In a news release, Pocan said:

The President claims ICE is deporting dangerous gang members, drug dealers, and human traffickers. But according to its own records, ICE is deporting members of our community with minor offenses or no criminal history. But according to data provided by ICE, at least 39 of the individuals arrested had no documented criminal history.

According to emails provided by ICE, in addition to comments from local law enforcement, the agency appears to have failed to inform Madison and Dane County law enforcement officials of ICE operations in the area prior to the beginning of the raids. But Pocan said that starting as early as August 2, 2018, ICE contacted 13 county and local entities but provided no documentation that Madison or Dane County law enforcement were aware of the impending raids before September 21, 2018.

ICE failed to provide pertinent information regarding the FOIA and entirely disregarded some of Rep. Pocan’s requests for information. ICE disregarded two of Rep. Pocan’s questions and provided incomplete information for the other four. 294 of the 411 pages of disclosed information were fully redacted.

Pocan also had strong words at a press conference Monday.

“When they told us they worked off a list of 250 people that were their targets and they have this many people that aren’t on the list that they arrested, that’s a lie,” he said. “When they tell us that they’re going against MS-13 gang members and drug dealers and human traffickers, and then they come back with people with traffic offenses or no offenses, that’s a lie.”

Throughout the press conference, Pocan continually reiterated that ICE’s response to him was unacceptable.

“A proper response is to give you the information you ask for,” he said. “Instead, they gave us a puzzle, and they didn’t give us all the pieces.”

Pocan says he’ll file an appeal, and he’ll even go as far as suing the federal government.

Dane County Immigration Affairs Specialist Fabiola Hamdan says the community is still feeling the impact of the raids.

“A mom called me not too long ago about her 4-year-old who was called to play with the other kids,” she said. “He was on the second floor, and he said he couldn’t go and play because ICE was going to detain mom… So you think, this is a 4-year-old, and all the stuff that happened, this is a really traumatic experience.”

ICE told 27 News that they do not want to comment publicly on Pocan’s Monday comments.

In September, ICE said that more than half of the people arrested had prior criminal histories, and that 21 people had illegally re-entered the U.S. after having been previously deported.

Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak

Social Media and Digital Content Manager, 27 News

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