Immigrant Rights

Milwaukee County Board stengthens rights of the detained

With 14 of 18 Board members voting in favor, the Milwaukee County Board voted for a resolution supported by WNPJ member group Voces de la Frontera  that would change the way the county responds to "immigration detainers" issued by Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE issues the detainers to local officials for any person booked into a local jail who may be potentially subject to deportation, regardless of the seriousness of the booking charge. Immigration detainers are not mandatory, and local officials can -- and sometimes do -- refuse to honor them. ICE frequently issues detainers in error, for people who should not be deported. Last year, a third of ICE deportation requests were rejected by immigration judges. The resolution, which now goes to County Executive Chris Abele for signature, directs Milwaukee County law enforcement to follow the example of cities such as Taos, New Mexico,  which prohibits the honoring of Federal immigration detainers except in the case of persons convicted of a felony or two more more misdemeanors.
Take Action: Please call or email County Executive Chris Abele (414-278-4211, countyexec@milwcnty.com) to urge him to sign the resolution on responding to ICE detainers. And if you contacted your County Supervisor earlier regarding the resolution, please call them back to thank them for their vote.

Action Alert - Milwaukee: Protect rights of those held by police

A resolution currently before the Milwaukee County Board would change the way local police respond to detention requests received from Federal immigration authorities when people are detained for minor offenses. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issue an "immigration detainer" to local officials for any person booked into a local jail who may be potentially subject to deportation, regardless of the seriousness of the booking charge. Immigration detainers are not mandatory, and local officials can -- and sometimes do -- refuse to honor them.

Dear Secretary Napolitano: Suspend Secure Communities

Jakadrien Turner, deported to Colombia"News reports surfaced last week that a fourteen-year-old girl from Dallas, an American citizen who did not speak a word of Spanish, was deported to Colombia," writes Ali Noorani on the Huffington Post.

"How many cases like this will it take before the Department of Homeland Security calls a time out and fixes the serious flaws in its Secure Communities program? [She] is not the first American citizen to have been mistakenly detained as part of the program -- and it has other egregious problems."

Dayton, Ohio welcomes immigrants to grow local economy

Faced with a declining population, the City Commission of Dayton Ohio voted unanimously last week to adopt a plan to "Create an inclusive community-wide campaign around immigrant entrepreneurship that facilitates startup businesses, opens global markets and restores life to Dayton neighborhoods." The Welcome Dayton Plan (.pdf) hopes to attract immigrants as a way to grow the local economy, based on nation-wide studies that show immigrants create new businesses and complement the American workforce. Read more...

Boston Mayor Threatens to Withdraw from ICE’s Secure Communities Program

Boston Mayor Menino is calling for a change or the end of the deeply flawed Secure Communities program that's deported nationally 61,234 immigrants with no prior criminal record.

Secure Communities shares the fingerprints of individuals booked into jails with federal immigration databases.  It severely hinders local law enforcement’s ability to protect the public, because those fingerprinted for suspicion of minor crimes may eventually face deportation.  The program is supposed to only deport those guilty of serious crimes, but nationally 47% of those deported were low-level offenders and 28% had no criminal record.  Many cities and states, including New York, Illinois, Colorado, DC, and parts of California, have threatened to drop the program.  On July 11, Boston Mayor Menino announced that he too had serious doubts about the program.

U.S. senators introduce alternative to enforcement-only immigration reform

U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) John Kerry (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) re-introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill aimed at addressing the broken immigration system, offering an alternative to enforcement-only policies.

 According to Mendez, "this is common-sense legislation that addresses the realities of the situation, stops the flow across our borders, and contributes to our economic recovery. If we can put political grandstanding aside and come together on a comprehensive, pragmatic bill like this one, we can bring resolution to a great national need.”

Community leaders carried from hearing on Walker budget

Joined by hundreds of supporters, a coalition of parents, students, educators, teaching assistants and members of the interfaith community were dragged from a public Joint Finance Committee hearing while reading statements calling for economic and educational justice. Among the community leaders removed by police were: Jesus Salas, former UW Regent; Larry Miller, Director on the Milwaukee Public School Board; Al Levie, Racine high school teacher and REA union member; and Christine Neumann-Ortíz, Voces de la Frontera executive director.

Participants in the civil-disobedience action read from a statement opposing the Governor's "Slashing funds for public education and removing the ability for undocumented students to pay instate tuition rates" and accusing Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee of "violating the norms of a civilized society when you invest more in incarceration than in public education." Read the full statement here...

WNPJ opposes anti-immigrant Pridemore bill

A bill recently introduced by Rep. Don Pridemore would allow law enforcement officials to detain someone for up to 48 hours, if officials have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person is in the United States without authorization. To avoid detention, the person must immediately show proof of her or his immigration status.

WNPJ rejects such measures as racist diversions from the real problems facing Wisconsin.  These proposals would harm our state because:

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