New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago or Denver might have been expected to host immigration protest rallies this week. Milwaukee, Wisconsin as host to thousands protesting Trump’s immigration directives shows both the profound depth to which the policies have affected every state and the extent to which Latinos comprise every corner of this great nation.
On Monday the 13th, thousands of Latino students, activists, politicians business people, and a diverse cadre of political allies took to the streets to resist Trump’s new immigration plan. Entitled, “A Day Without Latinos,” the Milwaukee march was organized by local nonprofit, Voces de la Frontera, urging attendees across the state to skip work and school and avoid purchases. At question is the issue communities across the country are wrestling with – whether local law enforcement will become an extension of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and assist the Federal Government with detaining and deporting undocumented workers. Milwaukee Sheriff, David Clarke was vehemently anti-Obama and has pledged his support to help ICE with local arrests of undocumented workers, many of them from Mexico and Central America.
Other cities around the country have been more resistant to cooperating with ICE, including Denver. In a community discussion organized by the Colorado Latino Forum at North High School in early February, Deputy City Attorney Crystal DeHerrera represented the city’s position regarding the president’s directive, “I want to make it clear that if Donald Trump expands his order, we are ready to fight. That includes a lawsuit. This is my community, too. This is not lip service.”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock doubled down on the city’s position last weekend at a Place Bridge Academy community meeting stating, “We will not become immigration law enforcement officers in this city.” Still, the city administration has shied away from calling Denver a Sanctuary City – a term first used during the tenure of Denver Mayor Wellington Webb who penned an Executive Order standing by immigrants to the city from Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Trump has threatened to pull federal funding from any city sticking to the moniker. Despite the threat, some big-city mayors have been forceful in their affirmation of being a Sanctuary City. In a November Op-Ed, Oakland Mayor, Libby Schaaf declared, “We’ll proudly stand as a sanctuary city — protecting our residents from what we deem unjust federal immigration laws — fight all forms of bigotry and advance our commitment to equity even more passionately.”
The Milwaukee protest comes only one day after tens of thousands in Mexico’s largest cities demanded decent treatment by the nascent U.S. administration. Mexican newspapers reported over 30,000 protestors in Mexico City and Guadalajara alone. At least 20 other cities participated in coordinated protest marches. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was also a target of the protest with marchers citing an increase in violence and failed economic policy. The Mexican president has posted record low approval ratings and spawned a tenuous relationship with Trump since receiving the candidate in August at Los Pinos.
According to data released by the Department of Homeland Security, over 700 have been arrested. According to ICE, those detained fall under three categories, “criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives.” Even the names given to these categories of individuals are offensive to those struggling to advocate for those being deported.
ICE proclaims to be the, “largest investigative agency in DHS.” Their latest actions include: 51 arrested in San Antonio, 41 in the New York area, 161 in Los Angeles, 235 in 7 mid-western states, and 190 arrested in southern states.
ICE tactics include deporting parents despite having native U.S. children. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos is a Mexican mother who was perhaps the first person deported under Trump’s new executive directive. She was first arrested in 2008 for working with a fake social security card – a felony offense. Last week was her eighth check-in at a Phoenix ICE center, but this time she was detained and deported to Nogales, Mexico less than 24 hours later. In a televised press conference in Phoenix after her deportation, one of Garcia de Rayos’ two teenage children, Jacqueline, said her mother’s only crime was working to make a better life for her family, “No one should ever go through the pain of having their mom taken away from them.”