Madison officials believe six people were taken into custody Friday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a targeted effort in the city.
The arrests came as a surprise to city and police officials and few details are known about the situation. Mayor Paul Soglin reaffirmed at a Friday news conference that ICE’s actions are “contrary to city policy.”
“We want to find out everyone who was taken by ICE, so we can make contact with them and do our best job to ensure that their rights are protected,” Soglin said. “That’s the first and highest priority.”
Ald. Shiva Bidar, District 5, said she believes the arrests were based on a list that ICE keeps, but she emphasized the encounter was not a wide-sweeping round-up.
“We do not want to send a message that there are massive raids in our city,” Bidar said. “Our community is certainly on edge already.”
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said the arrests took place at multiple workplaces and that he was unaware that ICE would be in Madison. It is not known who was arrested, what charges the individuals face or where they are being detained.
Soglin said there is no indication that the MPD is interested in the individuals who were arrested by ICE.
Koval said typically ICE officials contact Assistant Chief of Police Randy Gaber the day of or the day before immigration enforcement officers will be in Madison. In this case, no one contacted Madison police.
“Nothing has changed in terms of the MPD response,” Koval said. “We are not going to … assist in what I call those deportation issues.”
Centro Hispano Director Karen Menendez Coller urged anyone who is connected to someone arrested by ICE to call Dane County immigration affairs specialist Fabiola Hamdan at 608-242-6260 to be connected with immigration legal services.
“We’re devastated,” Menendez Coller said. “We always are, but we’ve come to expect the worst and the city is ready and prepared to defend against anything.”
Council President Samba Baldeh reiterated the city’s commitment to protecting its residents, while saying that it is sometimes “impossible just because we are also part of a state and a country.”
“This is really a serious situation,” Baldeh said.