Community Leaders Demand ICE Out of Milwaukee
Sixteen hundred signed postcard petitions were delivered to the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission after a press conference calling for community trust
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN — On Thursday, September 5, 2019, dozens of Milwaukee community members gathered for a press conference before giving public testimony and delivering over sixteen hundred petitions to the Fire and Police Commission during their general meeting. Community members expressed their desire to see the adoption of non-collaboration policies between the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Public speakers included a diverse range of community leaders but each highlighted their shared solidarity over community concerns with the current policy language on local immigration enforcement.
Yesterday’s event took place three weeks before the policy committee considers changes to the Standard Operating Procedure on Immigration (SOP 130). Voces de la Frontera and allied organizations have proposed changes to the existing Milwaukee SOP 130, that provide clear and nondiscretionary language that bars collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE.
Markasa Tucker, Director of the African American Roundtable highlighted the importance of community trust, saying, “community members need to have trust that local law enforcement is responsive to local needs and concerns. Right now, communities of color need reassurance that law enforcement policies are created with clarity and specific language that protects from racial profiling.”
Sandy Pasch, a member of the Jewish community and the Never Again is Now movement, added, “Jews know too well what happens when atrocities are met with silence, and even worse, complicity. The Milwaukee Police Department must not be complicit. They must create much stronger safeguards against collaboration with ICE.”
The safeguards Voces de la Frontera and other allies are urging include changes would ensure that no information, resources or people are transferred to ICE unless there is a judicial warrant. The changes would also ensure that ICE does not use local law enforcement to conduct raids. The current MPD policy is too discretionary and lacks due process protections.
An immigrant leader from Voces de la Frontera, Javier Escorcia, spoke of the discrimination felt in local immigrant communities with increased threats under the Trump Administration. He explained, “ right now children are being separated from their families, and we have the responsibility to speak up and stand against injustice…because all children deserve to go to school and know that their parents will be home when they get back.”
Paul Vang, from the Hmong American Women’s Association, also insisted that any community must be safe for families and that it is the responsibility of the MPD to provide safety. He said, “what would threaten the safety of our communities is if MPD collaborates with ICE because we know that as a community with refugee and immigrant status that we are the MOST vulnerable to deportation that lead to the separation of families and the uprooting of communities.”
Summarizing collective sentiment, Reverand Ellwanger from MICAH, an interfaith congregation-based organization, ended the press conference reiterating that, “The Milwaukee Police Department must clearly state that they will not use their resources for enforcing or carrying out any level of federal immigration policy.”
Voces de la Frontera and allies stand firm and hope to send a message to the Fire and Police Commission that barring collaboration between the MPD and ICE will decrease racial profiling, improve public safety, keep families together, and take away fear created in communities. Passing such a policy affirms that Milwaukee is a welcoming community that values the contributions immigrants make to our city and state.
The Fire and Police Commission will convene again on September 26, 2019, at City Hall and will hold the first vote on proposed changes to SOP 130. Voces de la Frontera is inviting people to lend their voice, continue signing petitions, and stay connected through our organization’s event page and find more information here.
Contact: Jessica Schmidt, firstname.lastname@example.org, 414-469-9206