In Milwaukee, Thousands Show What a Day Without Immigrants and Refugees Would Look Like

Lead Photo: ‘Day Without Latinos' 2016 Protest, Photo by Betsy Osterberger
‘Day Without Latinos' 2016 Protest, Photo by Betsy Osterberger
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Last week, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detained more than 600 undocumented immigrants across the United States. As ICE maintains that the arrests are business as usual, activists have begun staging protests and calling on politicians to act in response to what they see as a crackdown on immigration. Recently, President Donald Trump signed new immigration orders, one of which expanded the definition of “criminal alien” to encompass a wider range of people and not just those who pose a public or national safety threat, had ties to criminal gangs, and committed a series of felonies or minor crimes. During his campaign, Trump vowed to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. And today, residents in Milwaukee, Wisconsin attempted to show him the ramifications of such a sweeping action.

Thousands of immigrants and their allies staged a “Day Without Latinos, Immigrants, and Refugees” protest. Immigrants and their allies skipped school, work, and refrained from shopping today. Organized by Voces de la Frontera, the protests also hope to dissuade Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. from turning police into immigration agents, according to Fox 6 Now.

“Sheriff Clarke has said that he intends to enroll the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office in the 287g program, which would have his officers deputized to act as immigration agents,” according to ¡Somos Presente!. “287g has been totally discredited nationwide. Where it has been implemented, it has lead to an increase in racial profiling and constitutional rights violations. Communities that enrolled in the program, like Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County, Arizona, have wasted millions defending themselves in civil rights lawsuits, while serious crimes have gone ignored. The program would make tens of thousands of people in Milwaukee County afraid to report crimes, making all less safe.”

Starting at 11 a.m. at 1027 S. 5th St, the protesters marched to the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where a rally followed. About 150 businesses also closed for the day to stand in solidarity with the Latino community.

This isn’t the first time that Wisconsin has held a “Day Without Latinos” protest. Almost exactly a year ago in Madison, Voces encouraged people not to show up to work or school to protest AB450/SB369 and AB723/SB533 – two proposed laws meant to restrain the immigrant community. AB450 would enable police officers to ask people for their immigration status and to detain them for immigration infractions, even if they are not being charged with a crime. AB723 would make it impossible for undocumented immigrants to get municipal IDs.

A year later, the  message remains the same: immigrants enrich the United States. Check out images and videos from the protests below: