Last Week, ICE Targeted Wisconsin. What Do We Do Now?

Photo courtesy of Angela Colmenares, Organizer of Peaceful Protest Against ICE – 9/26/18

A week ago, between Friday and Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 9 individuals in Brown County and 83 statewide [1]. The details and motivations for these arrests are not yet transparent, though previous ICE efforts in Wisconsin have targeted mostly immigrants not lawfully admitted to the U.S. [1]. The Green Bay Police Department (GBPD) was not made aware of ICE’s arrival prior to the four-day operation [2]. Though the surge of arrests reportedly ended Monday, individual reports concerning ICE activity flood social media while Green Bay’s Latinx and other vulnerable communities continue to fear for their safety [1]. In the wake of the fear and unrest the operation unleashed in Wisconsin communities, here’s what you need to know:

• Undocumented immigrants are the primary targets of ICE operations, but lawful permanent residents, refugees, and visa holders are subject to arrest if they have certain criminal convictions ranging from felonies to select misdemeanors [3]. Misdemeanors classified as those involving “moral turpitude,” a nebulous catch-all definition of immoral criminal behavior, committed within 5 years after the date of U.S. admission are considered grounds for arresting and deporting lawful residents [4].
• ICE agents CANNOT legally (except in limited, preapproved circumstances such as imminent danger to the public) make arrests at defined sensitive locations, which include schools, medical treatment and health care facilities, places of worship, religious or civil ceremonies or observances, and public demonstrations [5].
• ICE agents CAN make arrests at workplaces, courthouses, as well as at traffic stops or on the street so long as they have probable cause to do so [6].
• ICE agents routinely identify themselves as ‘police’ and not immigration officials when conducting raids. Agents used this tactic in the most recent operation [7].
• Immigrants have the right to remain silent, do not have to give out their name or immigration status information, and can refuse a search of their residence, vehicle, or possessions without a signed warrant [3,8].

With a lack of information about ICE’s policies and the rights of immigrants, some Wisconsinites fear going to work, school, or leaving their homes when there is news of ICE arrests [1]. Operations like the ones which took place in Wisconsin last week can cripple Latinx and other vulnerable communities unless residents are aware of their rights and know where they are safe. Casa ALBA, Voces de la Frontera, the Green Bay School District, and the GBPD have been instrumental in educating and reassuring Brown County citizens while a peaceful protest last week allowed individuals to raise a voice for change.

Now is the time to take action. A piece of legislation currently stalled in the House of Representatives, the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, seeks to limit ICE actions at sensitive locations and clarify the powers of immigration officers at those locations, a vital step to minimizing the disruption immigration operations inflict on communities [9]. This bill would expand sensitive locations to include courthouses, DMV offices, emergency relief locations, and Social Security offices among others [10]. ICE activity should not interrupt access to these vital facilities. Representative Gwen Moore is the only Wisconsin legislator to cosponsor the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act. If you want to limit ICE’s ability to spread panic in sensitive communities, call your representative and tell them you approve of protecting and expanding sensitive locations. This bill is a small step, but it is a vital one in the fight to improve the lives of Wisconsin’s immigrants.

The links below contain more policy and constitutional information than that which is summarized above.

[1] https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2018/09/25/ice-agents-arrest-9-brown-county-83-wisconsin-4-day-operation/1423165002/
[2] https://www.wbay.com/content/news/Chief-Smith-Discusses-ICE-Arrests-in-Green-Bay-494272611.html
[3] https://www.immigrantdefenseproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/IDP-ICE-Raids-Flyer-ENG-Jan-13-2018.pdf
[4] https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-5684.html
[5] https://www.ice.gov/ero/enforcement/sensitive-loc
[6] https://www.politifact.com/california/article/2018/sep/04/does-ice-have-unlimited-authority-make-courthouse-/
[7] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2018/09/26/ice-says-its-accurate-agents-call-themselves-police/1432369002/
[8] https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/what-constitutional-rights-do-undocumented-immigrants-have
[9] https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1815/text
[10] https://bonamici.house.gov/sites/bonamici.house.gov/files/documents/170331SensitiveLocationsSummary.pdf

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