Thousands protest Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke’s immigration crackdown in Day Without Latinos march
Thousands of protesters marched from Milwaukee’s predominantly Hispanic south side to the downtown courthouse to protest an immigration crackdown by Sheriff David Clarke.
The demonstrators protested against his plans to deputize local law enforcement officers as federal immigration agents.
Busloads of demonstrators from about a dozen communities around Wisconsin arrived to join local protesters in the mile-long Day Without Latinos march.
Clarke posted a response to the event on his Facebook page last week:
‘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’.
Parents with children in strollers, young men hoisting Mexican and American flags and older supporters mingled as the crowd, estimated at 10,000 to 20,000 by police, moved through the streets chanting ‘Si, podemos!’ or ‘Yes we can!’
Jose Flores, board president at Voces de le Frontera, one of the groups organizing the march, said he is fearful of the plan by Clarke to enroll his deputies in a federal program that allows them to perform immigration law enforcement functions.
‘Many peoples got to be afraid, you know. Like many families in this county, there’s a lot of hard workers. They are not criminals. We are not criminals’, Flores said.
Activists also marched against President Donald Trump’s stand on immigration and his executive order that targets just about any immigrant living in the country illegally for deportation.
‘There’s a lot of hate in the country now with the new president and we march for that too’, Flores said.
Organizers invited Latinos and others around the state to close their businesses, take their children out of school and march to stop Clarke from turning deputies into immigration agents.
Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office told Fox 6 that it hasn’t sought that authority yet, but has left the door open to doing so.
Milwaukee police officers blocked intersections to allow the massive crowd to move freely to the downtown courthouse.
No arrests were made.
‘This country’s greatest strength is its immigrants’, said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele who surveyed the crown from the courthouse terrace.
‘It’s easy to forget what makes us strong’.
Abele said immigration was not a Republican or a Democratic issue.
‘This is an American issue, a citizens’ issue’, he said.
Abele asked where the City of Milwaukee would be without the German immigrants who came in droves during the 1800s.
Maria Jasso, 31, said she brought her three children, ages 6, 8 and 9, to the march to learn an important lesson about immigration.
‘We want the president to not do what he wants to do’, Jasso said, speaking about the separation of families when a deportation occurs.
The march comes days after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested more than 600 people across at least 11 states in a week, according to The New York Times.
Trump tweeted in response to the raids, saying the targets were ‘illegal criminals’, including ‘gang members’ and ‘drug dealers’.
But some of those arrested didn’t have criminal histories and were discovered to be undocumented during the sweeps.
Clarke’s desire to treat local law enforcement as immigration officers in partnership with ICE could result in similar arrests in Milwaukee County.
The sheriff wrote that he would enroll the county in an ICE program which grants local and state officers the authority to arrest and detain undocumented people as deputized immigration officials.
‘President Trump made it clear with his Executive Order on enforcement of our immigration laws’, he wrote in a January 27 post on the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
‘No more catch and release of criminal illegal aliens. I will assign as many deputies to this initiative as I can. It is a public safety priority’.
Written by Jordan Gass-Poore for and published by The Daily Mail ~ February 13, 2017.
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