Immigration controversy in Dodge County
A local family has taken to You Tube to plead for the release of local drug counselor Selepri Amachree.
Amachree came to the U.S. from Liberia at the age of two.
This past February the 50 year old went to the Dodge County Sheriff's Office to get permission to counsel inmates.
Instead, immigration was waiting for him and took him into custody, acting on a deportation order more than a decade old after he served time for cocaine possession.
"He can't understand why he can't be released to come home," said his wife Danyelle. "And do the work he does and help his family."
His supporters call it a ridiculous application of 287-G, the controversial agreement that allows local law enforcement to work with immigration and act as deputy immigration officers on immigration issues.
But the Dodge County Sheriff has another story to tell.
"My role in this has nothing to do with his current incarceration." Sheriff Dale J. Schmidt tells CBS 58 News. "My role in this was simply to see if he had the right to enter the jail."
The sheriff says Amachree wanted to work with inmates and promote his drug treatment business and program.
"Whether the business is good or bad I can't say that," said Schmidt. "The methods that he's using are questionable, raised a lot of red flags for me. I'm not going to put my inmates in my jail or the public at risk if I can at all avoid it."
Sheriff Schmidt acknowledges that much of what his investigator uncovered as part of a background check are allegations.
"But we're also talking about an extensive criminal history in Illinois," added Schmidt.
He said he was also concerned that another program called "Teen Challenge" sought to distance itself from Amarchree.
"They're not wanting anything to do with this guy because of a number of allegations and incidents that have come up with their organizations. We're talking about one in Colorado, Arizona and here in Milwaukee. They want nothing to do with him because of his previous contacts and some of the ways that he deals with individuals and the questionable manner and practices he uses."
But when pressed on why any of that would warrant the presence of immigration agents at his office, the Sheriff responds this way:
"There was an immigration detainer put out. We made contact with them to confirm the detainer. They requested to be present at the time of my interview which I allowed them to do. I had nothing to do with taking him into custody. I simply cooperated with federal authorities who requested to be present. They took him into custody. Not me."
Sheriff Schmidt said this was not an action based on 287-G.
"This was the right decision to make. To work with our federal partners. They made a request. It was a reasonable request to be present at the time. They did their job. I did my job. At the end of the day, it wasn't me calling him in. It was him hounding me several times saying when can I come to meet with you so we can put this to bed. Just because immigration officials wanted to be present had no bearing on anything I was doing. I was cooperating with federal law enforcement officials which is what I will do today, tomorrow, yesterday. It doesn't matter. We're going to work together. Because that's what law enforcement does. We work together to keep our communities safe. Period."
Amachree's family is declining further interviews at this time to focus on a vigorous defense.
A family representative also tells CBS 58 News that they will be petitioning to have the deportation order reversed.
At last report, Amachree remained in custody in Dodge County.
To see more on Amachree's work to fight addiction and his family's fight to free him click here