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Targeting Spanish speakers? ICE agents reportedly looking for illegal immigrants in Racine courts

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

RACINE COUNTY — Court officials and local activists are accusing a federal agency of racial profiling and discrimination against some Hispanic men and women in Racine County.

The reason, they say, is because when these Hispanic immigrants show up in court on select days for traffic offenses or misdemeanors, oftentimes federal immigration agents are waiting in the wings. And some of these defendants may face deportation after being caught in court.

“What we’re hearing is people are showing up for their traffic court or misdemeanors, and walking out and being met by (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents,” said Assistant State Public Defender Margaret Johnson, who serves as statewide racial disparity practice coordinator for the state’s Public Defender’s Office.

That apparently happens on the first Wednesday and first Friday of each month. On those days, Spanish-speaking defendants facing misdemeanor and traffic charges are scheduled to appear in Racine County court for various hearings. That arrangement has been in place for the past four to five years for those needing Spanish-speaking court interpreters, said Sam Christensen, administrative deputy clerk for the Racine County Clerk of Courts office.

“It started as a cost savings,” Christensen said. It was “going to make it easier to have a couple of interpreters on a few days of week.”...Read More...

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