Polarizing Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has proposed yet another controversial idea — this time with regard to immigration — saying mayors and politicians who represent sanctuary cities should be prosecuted.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference late last month, Clarke called for the enforcement of an existing federal statute that says anyone who harbors undocumented immigrants can be jailed for up to 10 years. In the wake of the Trump administration's more aggressive deportation stance, several mayors have promised to protect undocumented immigrants in their cities. Clarke emphasized specifically holding those mayors accountable as a way to deter others: "I'm telling you right now folks: You charge one mayor, one governor, one council president … this stuff is going to end right away."
Clarke also touched on the rift many conservatives say exists between local and federal governments with regard immigration enforcement, saying cities, counties and states should not hinder local law enforcement from assisting federal law enforcement.
A day after delivering this speech, Clarke won a victory in the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a dispute over the release of federal detention records. Clarke was sued by an immigrants rights group in 2015 after denying their public records request for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) forms, which are requests to hold prisoners an extra 48 hours after their release date to check for immigration violations. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed with Clarke's position that federal law put into effect after the September 11 attacks overrode state law regarding public records.
"It is time for this pro-illegal immigration group to embrace the rule of law in this country as it relates to immigration," Clarke wrote on Facebook following the decision. "Criminal illegal aliens make Milwaukee County a dangerous place to live, work and play."
The case and Clarke's statements on immigration come on the heels of a tumultuous month in Wisconsin regarding undocumented immigrants, when nearly 20,000 people across 25 cities in Wisconsin marched in opposition to Clarke's call to enroll local police officers in a program allowing them to enforce and partake in some federal immigration enforcement duties. Citizens fear this could cause an even bigger wedge between community members and local police.
Clarke again used Facebook as his platform to respond to the march, posting: "Please accept my regrets. I will be working with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement helping them identify criminal illegal aliens and therefore cannot attend your rally being held for me."
As Clarke attempts to brand himself as a potential formidable 2018 Senate candidate, will he push to make these comments a reality?