Immigration reform advocates protest in Milwaukee

Protestors blocked the garage doors for over two hours on Thursday at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office located in downtown Milwaukee. The protesters, members of a group known as Voces de la Frontera (Voices of the Frontier), were acting in response to recent immigration raids that took place in Wisconsin’s largest city, in which 49 individuals were arrested and now face legal action including deportation.

Though city officials and members of ICE have insisted that the individuals who were arrested all were criminals of a dangerous nature, the protesters maintain that many of those now facing deportation were guilty only of entering the country illegally. Christine Neumann-Ortiz, who serves as the executive director of Voces de la Frontera, stated that the protest had much more to do with prohibiting ICE from carrying out more raids than reacting to the ones that had already transpired.

“This is a pragmatic action, not a symbolic one,” Neumann-Ortiz told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.”We’re literally shutting down ICE.”

This protest comes not only in response to the immigration raids in Milwaukee, but also as part of a larger campaign known as “Not One More.” The Not One More campaign has been organized by the National Day Labor Organizing Network to protest deportation as the comprehensive immigration reform bill in front of the House of Representatives continues to be stalled. This organization, among many others, has been putting pressure on President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to force that comprehensive reform bill into law.

Representatives from ICE maintained that the earlier raids were targeted at improving safety in Milwaukee and nothing more. Ricardo Wong, field office director for Enforcement and Removal Operations, reiterated this sentiment when speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“[the removal of criminal immigrants from Milwaukee] has an immediate and tangible impact on our communities,” Wong told the source. “By focusing our resources on the most egregious offenders, we ensure the very best use of our resources while immediately improving public safety in our neighborhoods.”