MILWAUKEE- Marisabel Cabrera, a member of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, the board which oversees the Police and Fire Departments, is standing up against changes to Police Department policy. The change in policy, drafted in secret, makes it easier for police officers to work with federal immigration agents. Advocates like Commissioner Cabrera say that this change will allow for more racial profiling, arguing that the change in policy makes police officers “immigration agents without the formal deputizing.”

Mary Spicuzza and Ashley Luthern at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report:

An immigration attorney who sits on the civilian board charged with overseeing the Milwaukee Police Department ripped recent changes to department policy, arguing the new rules make city officers “immigration agents without the formal deputizing.”

Marisabel Cabrera, one of seven members of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, vented her frustration Wednesday, the same day immigrant rights groups rallied at City Hall and Mayor Tom Barrett insisted his position on immigration enforcement hasn’t changed.

The commission is one of the oldest and most powerful police oversight boards in the country. It is responsible for overseeing and prescribing general policies, standards and rules in the city’s Fire and Police Departments, among other duties.

But this most recent change to Police Department policy — which critics say will make it easier for officers to work with federal immigration agents and possibly lead to racial profiling — was not discussed publicly before the commission.

“This entire process has been intentionally secretive and undemocratic and completely undermines the (commission’s) statutorily granted powers,” Cabrera said in an email.

“On top of that, it was an unnecessary and borderline malicious exercise as the (policy) was never out of compliance.”

It appears the policy changes came at the request of the city attorney’s office, which told the commission during closed session the existing policy “did not comply” with federal law and federal grants might be at risk. Cabrera said she insisted to city attorneys the existing policy did comply and expressed her concern with any proposed changes.

Commission members were assured they would get a chance to review the policy revisions, but then last week were told the city attorney had already signed off on the changes and apparently so did Commission Chairman Steven DeVougas, Cabrera said.

Cabrera said she is left with a “pile of unanswered questions,” including what commission rule gives unilateral authority to the chairman to approve policy revisions.

Read more at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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