WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (WI-02) yesterday visited the offices of U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Washington, DC, where he distributed ‘missing’ flyers for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that he made on October 12, 2018. Pocan’s latest visit to the agency comes after he made an unannounced visit on January 30, 2019 and demanded to know the status of his request. Despite receiving the request in October, the agency was still unable to provide information during Pocan’s visit in January, even after officials asked for multiple extensions over the last several months.
“More than 120 days after I submitted a request to officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency continues to refuse to provide critical information regarding the arrests of 83 individuals in Wisconsin in September 2018,” said Pocan. “Despite multiple meetings, letters, a FOIA request, and unannounced visits to the agency’s office, ICE will not provide information regarding communication with local law enforcement officials and information about whether the arrested individuals held criminal records.”
“More than four months after submitting my request, the agency is clearly using delays as an effort to hide something. While we will not know until the agency provides the information, I have reason believe that the data on the arrests will show that ICE has targeted immigrants with no prior criminal record to stoke fear in our community,” continued Pocan. “Should the agency continue to fail to provide this information, my next step will be to retain counsel and initiate a lawsuit.”
Since the initial inquiry from Rep. Pocan over 120 days ago, ICE has yet to respond with the requested information. ICE claims to have responded to Rep. Pocan twice, but those responses contained only an acknowledgment of his initial request, and a statement that additional time would be needed to fulfill the request. Rep. Pocan still awaits information pertaining to ICE activities in Wisconsin during September 2018 that resulted in the arrest of 83 individuals.
Last week, Pocan brought Aissa Olivarez, Staff Attorney for the Community Immigration Law Center (CILC) in Madison, as his guest for the State of the Union. Olivarez is the first-ever full-time staff attorney at CILC, a nonprofit resource center which helps low-income immigrants with legal services. Her practice primarily focuses on helping those who are detained and going through removal proceedings, including some of the 83 individuals arrested in Wisconsin last September.