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City leaders condemn ICE enforcement action as “racist and xenophobic”

September 27, 2018

In a joint statement Wednesday, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and the Madison City Council condemned the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s four-day Wisconsin “enforcement surge” as “racist and xenophobic.”

ICE said Tuesday that over the four days, it arrested 83 “criminal aliens and immigration violators,” in Wisconsin including 20 in Dane County, the most of any county in the state.

“We are heartbroken as we consider the plight of our Madison residents who were literally taken from their homes, their place of work, or in some cases, parking lots,” Soglin and the City Council wrote in their statement. “These are our friends and neighbors, who, with the rest of Wisconsin, live, work and raise their families.”

ICE wrote Tuesday that of the 83 arrested in Wisconsin, 44 had criminal convictions. More than three-quarters of those arrested were from Mexico. Sixteen were “immigration fugitives” with no prior criminal record, ICE said, while 21 others came into the U.S. after having been deported before, which is a felony.

While the enforcement action appears to be over for now, city leaders wrote, “the wording of the release from ICE officials criminalizes our community and creates a false narrative about our immigrant communities. We know better. Immigrants are productive members of our neighborhoods, our schools, our communities and our state, providing services in area businesses, paying taxes and trying to raise their children, just like the rest of us.”

City leaders also condemned the separation of children from their parents during ICE actions, saying it is “not American, it is not part of the welcoming community we strive to be.”

Madison police and Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney have also been critical of the raids, saying Monday that federal authorities have abandoned agreements to share information about arrests with local law enforcement, and that the arrests have eroded trust built by police agencies with immigrant communities.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Black Earth, said he is meeting Thursday with ICE officials in Washington to discuss the arrests and the agency’s lack of communication with local and federal officials. He said he only learned of ICE’s actions in his district through a press release.

“I’m disappointed that ICE did not relay details concerning the arrests to my office and instead decided to highlight a select few cases in outreach to the media,” Pocan said in a statement. “I demand further information regarding the individuals who have been detained with either no prior criminal record, or who have been detained for minor offenses including traffic violations.”

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