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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee's sheriff does not have to release information on people at his jail suspected of being in the country illegally because the federal government prohibits it, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The 4-2 decision from the court's conservative majority reverses lower-court decisions that ordered Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to disclose the information under the state's open records law, following a request from an immigrant advocacy group.

The ruling is a victory for Milwaukee's sheriff, who has pledged to follow President Donald Trump's directive to crack down on illegal immigration and expand the number of people prioritized for deportation.

Milwaukee-based Voces de La Frontera filed the request in February 2015, asking for records identifying who the sheriff had held at the request of immigration authorities for the prior two months. The group said it wanted to know who the sheriff was detaining and whether they had a criminal record to meet the narrower guidelines former President Barack Obama previously set for deportation.

The immigrant advocacy said it also wanted to monitor whether any U.S. Citizens were being mistakenly detained because they're aware of one case where that happened.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the group would appeal.

In its ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said a federal regulation makes the jail records the group seeks exempt from disclosure.

"The regulation is meant to protect sensitive information pertaining to government criminal or immigration-related investigations," said Justice Patience Drake Roggensack, who wrote the opinion for the majority.

But dissenting justices argued the majority misinterpreted the regulation. The dissenting justices said it applied only to individuals currently in federal custody, not people held on state or local charges after the expiration of the 48-hour hold immigration authorities request when someone is suspected of being in the country illegally.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, who wrote the dissent, noted that throughout the legal proceedings it was uncontested that the individuals at the center of the records request were not in federal custody. Bradley said wasn't until the case was appealed to the state Supreme Court that Clarke argued some of the inmates were in federal custody and their information should remain private even after the 48-hour hold expired.

"Reneging on previously uncontested facts and relying on a belatedly cited obscure federal regulation — never before applied to state or local detainees — Sheriff Clarke tosses a 'hail mary' pass to the Wisconsin Supreme Court," Bradley wrote. "The majority catches the pass and runs with it, but unfortunately makes no forward progress for the people of this state."

The matter of 48-hour immigration holds has come under legal scrutiny in recent years. Courts in Oregon and Pennsylvania ruled in 2014 that detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement are merely requests and not commands that local jurisdictions are required to follow. The courts said sheriffs could be liable for constitutional violations for holding people past the time when they would otherwise be released after the 48 hours expired.

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