Milwaukee County supervisors voted on Feb. 2 to re-affirm their opposition to all forms of discrimination.
Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic offered the resolution, seen as a direct response to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from traveling to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, his hold on the U.S. refugee program and promises of further anti-immigrant, anti-refugee actions.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke responded to the White House directives with an eager pledge to enforce anti-immigrant policies but Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn has said it is not the responsibility of local police to carry out federal policy.
“We should be finding ways to strengthen relationships between the community and local law enforcement, not create fear and division, as our sheriff has promised,” Dimitrijevic said in a news release after the vote.
She added, “The people of Milwaukee County have told us loud and clear that they do not want to be divided and they are opposed to attacks on immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women and other targeted groups. Today, supervisors said we hear you, and Milwaukee County stands with you against discrimination, hate, and bigotry.”
The county supervisors received hundreds of calls and emails before they took up the resolution, which was endorsed by Voces de la Frontera, the statewide immigrant rights group.
“With the Trump administration threatening to repeal federal enforcement priorities and turn local law enforcement into Immigration agents, we know that local government will lead the way in creating policies that place community trust and public safety ahead of fear-mongering and attacks on hard-working immigrant families,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, said at a news conference introducing the resolution.
The resolution was adopted because, as stated in the document:
• Trump issued executive orders Jan. 25 and Jan. 27 that will “suspend the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days, ban the arrival of Syrian refugees indefinitely, suspend travel from certain majority Muslim countries, and slash overall refugee admissions by at least 50 percent.
• Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order lays the foundation of a mass deportation program through new immigration enforcement priorities that make all undocumented immigrants priorities for removal.
• Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order on immigration intends to engage “local officials for the purpose of preparing to enter into agreements under section 287 (g)” in order “to authorize state and local law enforcement officials to perform the functions of immigration”
• The 287 (g) program, which allows Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to delegate immigration enforcement to partners in state and local agencies, has been found to create “discriminatory policy practices” by the federal Justice Department.
• Trump’s sweeping new immigration enforcement priorities make millions of people a priority for removal based solely on the judgment of a low-level immigration officer, violating people’s constitutional right to due process and fair trial.
• In 2012, the board of supervisors approved a policy that specified when ICE detainer requests would be honored, emphasizing that people who do not represent a threat to public safety should not be targeted and requested that the office of the sheriff abide by the policy.
The supervisors, with the vote, resolved:
• That no matter the threats made by Trump, the county will prioritize keeping families together and will remain a safe place for immigrants who contribute to the richness and vibrancy of the community.
• To continue to work for the realization of women’s rights, whether in health care, the workplace or any other area.
• That Black Lives Matter.
The resolution re-affirmed supervisors’ support for LGBTQ equality, including same-sex marriage right and vowed the board will not stop fighting for LGBTQ people, who at this time might “feel scared, bullied or alone.”
And the resolution contained a statement of support for “refugee families who have built their lives in Milwaukee County and now cannot be reunited with loved ones” and a commitment to law enforcement reforms under the Task Force on 21st Century Policing established by the Obama administration.
Finally, the resolution says the county board encourages the county’s chief judge to request ICE agents not carry out enforcement actions in or around Milwaukee County courthouse grounds, opposes the use of Section 287 (g) and urges the sheriff to refuse to enter into Section 287 (g) agreements with ICE and refuses to honor detainer requests unless the request is accompanied by a federal court order or warrant.
“As a co-sponsor of resolution 16-738, I am proud of my colleagues for taking a stand against hate and discrimination,” said Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson. “Today, we stood together for justice and inclusion, in support of our most vulnerable residents.”
In related news, the ACLU of Wisconsin and other ACLU affiliates filed 18 Freedom of Information Act requests on Feb. 2 with local U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices to expose how Trump administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s Muslim ban at more than 55 international airports across the country, acting in violation of federal courts that ordered a stay on the ban’s implementation.
“It is imperative that the public learn if federal immigration officials are blatantly defying nationwide federal court orders that block President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, a staff Attorney with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties in California. “To shed light on this critical issue of pressing public concern, 50 ACLU affiliates are using the Freedom of Information Act to expose Customs and Border Protection’s abuse of power.”
Media reports indicate that CBP officials detained and deported individuals, even after federal courts ordered officials to stop enforcing the executive order following a court challenge from the ACLU and other organizations.
“We have received quite a few messages from immigrants in the U.S. and those with family members with visas to legally immigrate from overseas,” said ACLU of Wisconsin senior staff attorney, Karyn Rotker. “The community is fearful and confused by the sudden, extreme actions the government is taking.”
The Trump administration has yet to inform the public of how many refugees, visa holders and legal permanent residents have been affected by this action.
The following ACLU affiliates participated in this coordinated FOIA filing:
San Diego, California
Photo: Via Voces de la Frontera on Facebook.
Editor’s note: This report will be updated.