The Dane County Sheriff’s Office relationship with ICE
Unintended consequences
said about those being deported. “It’s like a pyramid. The next layer is the family members of that person. Many of those children are U.S. citizens who will be
staying here. What happens to the family members? The next level is the larger community — and because it disproportionately affects them, the Latino
community — and the climate of a lack of trust and fear that is informing the Latino community. And then the next layer is going to be the entire community,
which is what I was talking about earlier, the issue of safety with the entire community that this creates. If one segment of the community does not trust law
enforcement and is not reporting issues to law enforcement, it affects all of us. There may be things going on that are not being reported. Focusing on the tip of
the iceberg really doesn’t address all of the issues that are going on below the surface. Sometimes the things going on below the surface are unintended
consequences, but they are the larger consequences. They are what make the issue a community wide issue as opposed to an issue of justice for 30 people. It isn’
t just an issue that affects 30 people.”
    As a social worker, Hamdan has seen the impact of the policy. “Along those lines, when that happens and we are living with those ramifications, we have a
community that is in need of new services,” Hamdan said. “For example, a family gets affected by this policy when the husband gets detained and deported. And
the families are talking about it openly with the kids behind closed doors. Then we have children who go to school and are experiencing some anxiety in the
classroom. We have cases where kids are really suffering. These types of consequences happen in a way that if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t really find out what
happened. We are finding out that the stress levels that the families and the children are experiencing are affecting the school system, the community and social
services. So I think we need to think about that, the ripple effect we are seeing in the families and the community, especially the Latino community where
immigration is a big issue.”
    “When you talk about the issue of the disappearance, what happens in our broken immigration system is that when someone is picked up and booked into our
county jail and they are transferred from the local law enforcement’s hands into being under the supervision of ICE, there isn’t the ability to contact those
people,” Bidar-Sielaff emphasized. “Often they do not have legal representation available to them because they are under ICE detention. So they kind of
disappear and no one knows where they are. Fabiola and I have had some cases where we are having a hard time locating where the person is. They are
transferring people and there is very limited ability to get in contact with those people. With some detention centers, you cannot get in touch with the people
under ICE detention. It reinforces the sentiment that people have that law enforcement comes and gets you because the person that comes and gets you is local
law enforcement. People don’t know that it is after they get into the ICE detention center when their communication stops. So they equate when you are
detained by local law enforcement with disappearing. That’s when the trust breaks down with local law enforcement. People don’t distinguish between local law
enforcement and ICE. You were picked up. People don’t know where you are. Consequently, the connection with local law enforcement is lost.”
    And Hamdan feels the fear generated by the loss of contact is contagious. “When I am working with families, I can tell that they are afraid and they are not
going to call the police,” Hamdan said. “With all of the meetings in the community, I know the fear is out there. It’s hard to count and give you statistics, but I talk
to school people and it is a big issue with the kids right now.”
    Bidar-Sielaff agrees with the impact the fear is having. “The work that a lot of people do in this town, years of telling the Latino community ‘Listen, you need
to work with the police and local law enforcement’ is at risk,” Bidar-Sielaff said. “The law is clear and you can go and ask about it. The access to local
government is really easy, which doesn’t occur in other countries. Here you are able to complain to whatever agency you need to complain to.  There has been
a lot of work done in this community by people from across the community, from the Sheriff’s Department to the Madison Police Department, to build trust in the
community, especially the Latino community, because of the issue of image. When something like this happens, it breaks all of those years of trust building that
have happened. Unfortunately, it reinforces a distrust that continues. After all of those years of work where we felt very comfortable and have made very big
strides in the Latino community trusting law enforcement, a gap has occurred.”
    And ultimately, it might negatively impact the credibility of people like Bidar-Sielaff and Hamdan who are trying to make the system work for the Latino
community. “I think these past years of work we have done, when you have these types of families in distress, for people like us, it is difficult for us to tell these
families that they still need to trust law enforcement,” Hamdan said. “I don’t know what is going to happen now with this policy. We need to look closely at the
effect and keep an open mind to what is really going on.”
    At the end of the day, Bidar-Sielaff feels the Dane County Sheriff’s Office should back away from its relationship with ICE. “There needs to be comprehensive
immigration reform,” Bidar-Sielaff emphasized. “I think everyone agrees on that. We may not be able to agree on exactly what that immigration reform may
entail, but we do agree that it is broken and this system is not sometimes working. Knowing that, participating in that broken system creates issues. If we all know
that system is broken, at this point, we all need to step back and try not to interact with that system until the system is fixed or at least until there is some measure
in trying to fix it and there are some parameters placed around that. Then we will have to live with that. But right now, there are no standards; there are no
parameters. Everyone chooses what to do. Every county does something different in our state. Immigration is a federal issue. ICE is a federal agency. They need
to figure out what the issues and rules are. Right now, local law enforcement is making the decisions on what those rules are because there is no direction. It
creates a lot of difficulties for everyone.”
    Mahoney stated that he is trying to find alternative identification methods that will eliminate the need to contact ICE. “I met with two representatives from the
Mexican consulate out of Chicago,” Mahoney said. “We had discussed them coming to Dane County as an in-service, working with all law enforcement,
particularly in the Sheriff’s Office, who conduct ongoing training to talk about the consulate ID and the potential of increasing their availability to provide the
meticula consulate ID and provide us with their technology on identifying false IDs. We may be able to use that as one more form of ID that we can
acknowledge.”
    Hamdan has hope that something can be worked out with the sheriff’s department to resolve this issue. “Where there is a will, there is a way to resolve this
issue,” Hamdan said. “I have lived so many years in this county that I consider myself a Madisonian. The whole country is going through a very hard time in all
kinds of way. If we engage in a constructive dialogue, I have hope that we can work things out. There are ways where we can have a meeting of the minds. We
are always hopeful for a better tomorrow.”
Without a resolution, lives may be at risk as well as the effectiveness of a system that has evolved to provide services to the Latino community in Madison.
By Jonathan Gramling

Part 2 of 2

    For most of 2008, the flashpoint of the undocumented worker and immigration issue has been the
relationship of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office to the federal government’s Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) office. While Mahoney maintains that the department has had a relationship with ICE and
its predecessor since at least 1980, it is the nature of the relationship, specifically when and why the
department contacts ICE, that is at the heart of the controversy.
    According to Mahoney, the issue of citizenship status does not come up until an individual has been
arrested and brought to the Dane County Jail for something other than their citizenship status. “They are not
locking people up for simply not having a driver’s license or are routinely stopping individuals who self-
identify as not being U.S. citizens, not having a drivers license who are issued a ticket and summons to come
to court and released on minor traffic offenses,” Mahoney said during an interview with The Capital City Hues.
“We’re not tying ourselves up with incarcerating non-documented aliens because they don’t have
identification. That isn’t happening. We’re not asking immigration status as a result of investigating crimes. I
can guarantee that we are not arresting victims of crimes for being undocumented aliens.”
    In 2007, according to statistics supplied by Mahoney, of the 276 notifications he made to ICE, 33 were
actually deported. And Mahoney stated that his office is not aware of any people not coming forward to
report crimes because of the notifications. “We have no credible information that crimes against domestic
partners or domestic violence cases have decreased or the victims have failed to call because of their
immigration status,” Mahoney emphasized.
    But Shiva Bidar-Sielaff and Fabiola Hamdan, two members of the Madison Equal Opportunities
Commission, would beg to differ with Mahoney. According to them the impact on the 33 who are deported is
just the tip of the iceberg in terms of who is affected.
    “They are the people who were directly affected, but below the surface, it is everyone else,” Bidar-Sielaff
Top: Fabiola Hamdan (l) and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff
Above: Dane Co. Sheriff Dave Mahoney