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


Brown County Board Votes Wednesday on Inclusion of Marijuana Referendums

On Wednesday, July 18th, the 26-member Brown County Board will take a vote on the inclusion of two advisory referendums concerning the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, respectively. Several other Wisconsin counties including Dane and Milwaukee have already approved marijuana referendums to appear on their November ballots. [1] [2] With a 2016 Marquette Law School poll suggesting that 59 percent of Wisconsinites questioned approve the full legalization—with regulation—of marijuana, these referendums seem like an opportune use of a ballot questionnaire to inform state lawmakers about a majority voice for legalization. [3] However, an important minority population faces the greatest injustice under Wisconsin’s current marijuana laws.

  • In Wisconsin, black individuals were 6 times more likely to arrested for marijuana possession compared to whites despite making up less than 10 percent of the state’s population, according to a 2013 ACLU report [4]
  • The same report found Brown County to have the greatest racial disparity in possession arrests statewide with blacks being 7.6 times more likely to be arrested than whites in the Green Bay area.
  • Racial disparities in arrest percentages persist while the number of arrests continues to grow. In 2017, Wisconsin arrested 17,022 individuals for simple possession of marijuana, a 5% growth from the previous year. [5]

Despite rates of marijuana use being only marginally different between races, black populations in Wisconsin are disproportionately affected by the laws which criminalize the drug. [6] Including advisory referendums on marijuana legalization gives Brown County residents the chance to decry a set of laws which allow the subjugation of black individuals under a guise of pursuing a public good. Brown County Board Chair Patrick Moynihan Jr. (who could not be reached for immediate comment) has previously spoken against including a marijuana question on the November ballot [7]. If you support the referendums, let Chairperson Moynihan know by signing Intellegere’s petition. Let the board member who represents your district hear your voice before Wednesday’s vote by contacting them by phone or email. A district map with board member information can be found here.

Tell the Brown County Board to keep marijuana criminalization’s racist footprint in mind this Wednesday.

[1] https://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/dane-county-board-approves-advisory-referendum-on-legalizing-marijuana/article_51aac3f0-ab47-5037-b165-d8204e86bc13.html

[2] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2018/05/10/county-panel-endorses-marijuana-referendum-nov-6-ballot/591566002/

[3] https://www.wpr.org/marquette-law-school-poll-shows-majority-wisconsinites-want-marijuana-be-legal

[4] https://www.aclu.org/report/report-war-marijuana-black-and-white?redirect=criminal-law-reform/war-marijuana-black-and-white

[5] https://www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/bjia/ucr-offense-and-arrest-data-agency

[6] https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHresultsPDFWHTML2013/Web/NSDUHresults2013.pdf

[7] https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2018/07/10/marijuana-legalization-weed-pot-brown-county-board-mulls-medical-recreational-referendum-alex-tran/766768002/