Thousands of people flooded the streets of Milwaukee, Wisconsin today as part of a protest called #DayWithoutLatinos. The protest was a direct response to Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., who wants to make his officers participate in the Secure Communities Program, or 287 (g). The program deputizes police officers and other members of law enforcement to act as federal immigration agents. It was implemented by George W. Bush in 2008, according to Politifact. Sheriff Clarke said he’s in full support of President Trump’s promise to ramp up and strongly enforce immigration policies.
Milwaukee’s predominately-Latino south side was full of protesters showing their solidarity with immigrant and refugee Wisconsinites.
— Sarah Jones Reports (@SarahJReports) February 13, 2017
According to NBC, thousands of Wisconsinites from around the state came to Milwaukee by bus to protest the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s interest in cooperating with President Trump, who recently signed an executive order that attempts do away with “sanctuary cities.”
The protest was organized by the immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera.
— Viva La Revolución? (@70torinoman) February 13, 2017
“Trump wants to paint immigrants as something we should be afraid of,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the director of Voces de la Frontera, told NBC. “When people do this general strike, what they show is that on the contrary, immigrants are lifting up this economy and when they withhold their contributions we see a decline.”
The protesters believe law enforcement officials shouldn’t be used to do the work of immigration agents.
— MTEA (@MTEAunion) February 13, 2017
“287 (g) might be a law but it is an unjust law,” Milwaukee County Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde told WPR. “I say that we can just add this one extra thing to the list of reasons why Sheriff Clarke should resign now.”
This isn’t the first time Wisconsin has seen its Latino population fight back against such laws.
CREDIT: @AntonioArellano / Twitter
In 2016, Milwaukee saw a #DayWithoutLatinos in protest against Assembly Bill 450 and Senate Bill 533. AB 450 was a bill that would have allowed Wisconsin police to investigate people’s citizenship and detain and deport those who were undocumented. SB 533 effectively blocks the state from issuing any identification cards to anyone who is undocumented.
Protesters in Milwaukee not only had each other for support, but the support of state officials, including Senator Chris Larson.
— Rikki Mitchell (@RikkiMitchell) February 13, 2017
“We wanted to show them that they can look up and realize that they are not alone,” Sen. Larson told NBC. “That there are leaders in their community who are standing up and will stand up with them to make sure they are not alienated and deported without due process.”
Several businesses in the area joined in the strike to further show the impact of these immigration policies.
— Hillary Mintz (@HILLARY_MINTZ) February 13, 2017
“We are not waiting for history to happen,” Sen. Larson told NBC.
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“We are showing right away that this is not tolerable and we will not go quietly and allow this to happen,” Larson added.