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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen released a guide for law enforcement today addressing what actions state and local law enforcement may or may not take when confronted with a foreign national in the course of their everyday law enforcement duties. Van Hollen also announced that the Wisconsin Department of Justice is exploring a possible agreement with the Department of Homeland Security -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to expand the state's ability to assist ICE in immigration enforcement matters. Section 287(g) of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act provides for federal partnerships with state or local law enforcement agencies to assist in immigration enforcement activities.


"As I travel throughout Wisconsin, perhaps no single issue has come up as often as illegal immigration," Van Hollen said. "The public has a lot of questions about what local law enforcement can do about illegal aliens. Law enforcement, too, has questions. The issue is certainly complicated by the fact that the federal government is the primary enforcer of immigration laws."


"To assist state and local law enforcement, my office has published a guide to give law enforcement easy to understand legal and practical guidance. I want to make sure that our laws are fully enforced without violating constitutional rights, federal law, or treaties."


A Wisconsin Department of Justice Guide for Law Enforcement Contacts with Foreign Nationals explores the circumstances under which state and local law enforcement can detain illegal aliens, background check information relating to immigration violations, consulate notification, and diplomatic immunity. In addition to providing legal guidance in these areas, the guide also contains Attorney General Van Hollen's recommendation that local law enforcement report encounters with certain persons who have confirmed civil immigration violations, but who may not be lawfully detained by the local law enforcement entity. Van Hollen also recommends that local law enforcement inquire into the immigration status of individuals who are booked to ensure proper contacts are made to federal authorities and appropriate notifications are made to consulates, when required by treaty.

Van Hollen is also making available Department of Justice resources to serve as a liaison between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials.


"In addition to following the law, I believe that we in state and local law enforcement should do our best to facilitate compliance with federal laws that relate to illegal aliens," Van Hollen continued. "My office has been in discussions with ICE to explore a partnership with the federal government to assist them with immigration law enforcement functions. We are also going to make available DOJ resources to provide assistance to local law enforcement to help them make the appropriate contacts with federal agencies Immigration control is a federal function, but illegal immigration has federal and state public safety consequences. If it makes sense from a Wisconsin public safety and law enforcement perspective for the Wisconsin Department of Justice to enter into a partnership with ICE, then we will enter an agreement."


A copy of "A Wisconsin Department of Justice Guide For Law Enforcement Contacts With Foreign Nationals" is available at The guide is being made available to law enforcement through the February edition of the Department of Justice's Law Enforcement Bulletin, and is also being posted on WILENET, the Department of Justice's website for law enforcement.


More information about the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement's 287(g) program is available at


AG Van Hollen Statement on Law Enforcement Immigration Guide [WMA]