Demonstrators from 25 Wisconsin cities will rally Monday in a Day without Latinos, Immigrants, and Refugees march.
Buses took off from several local communities, including Green Bay, Appleton, and Manitowoc. Protesters will march to the Milwaukee County Court House.
Organizer Voces de la Frontera says the march is to show opposition to Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s intention to enroll his department under Section 287g of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which would allow deputies to perform certain duties of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer. Those duties include identifying, processing, and detaining people believed to be in violation of federal immigration laws.
The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page says the office “has not, to date, sought that authority.” The Sheriff’s Office says if it were to join the federal program, it would enter an agreement with ICE and deputies would be allowed to conduct interviews and get warrants as needed.
“This is a long-standard practice within the law enforcement spectrum, and we do not agree with the seeming premise that its use is now controversial because we are discussing immigration law,” reads a statement from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.
Those against the sheriff’s plans say immigrants should not have to fear local law enforcement officials.
“My husband was deported,” said Jennifer Estrada, a community leader in Manitowoc. “I know what that feels like and the impact it had on my children. Immigrants are the backbone to the dairy industry in my area and without them, the economy would get worse for all of us. People should not be afraid of law enforcement, they should not live under the threat of their families being torn apart. I am proudly marching on Monday to say no to Sheriff Clarke’s plan to enroll in 287g. If it starts in Milwaukee, it will spread to other counties.”
Organizers of the march say more than 100 businesses in Wisconsin will be closed Monday so people can attend the rally.
March getting underway soon pic.twitter.com/Fk1ZbePzfb— Jorge Rodas (@JorgeRodasNews) February 13, 2017
Sheriff Clarke released a statement saying, “Please accept my regrets. I will be working with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement helping them identify criminal illegal aliens and therefore cannot attend your rally being held for me.”
Our Green Bay affiliate WBAY-TV has reporter Jorge Rodas is traveling with demonstrators from Green Bay to the rally. He’ll tell their story, plus get reaction from people who support Sheriff Clarke.