Voces de la Frontera Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz,speaks at Centro Hispano on Monday.

Centro Hispano of Dane County hosted a press conference on Monday addressing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ramped-up presence in Madison over the weekend that has wreaked havoc on Dane County’s immigrant community.

At least 34 people have been arrested by ICE in Wisconsin, including at least 11 people in the Madison area, according to an immigration rights group, Voces de la Frontera.

“We want people to know that it is safe and that communities will always have a home and protection against anything,” Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller told the crowd at the press conference. “We know that many of our community members have been impacted by what has happened over the weekend. We know that we were surprised last Thursday and Friday when ICE joined us here in our beautiful area to offend our community in ways that we cannot stand for.

“What I want to make sure that everybody understands is that even though the last couple of days have been filled with anxiety and filled with stress and filled with fear … we cannot let that overcome us,” she added. “We are determined to be dreamers in this community, to aspire, to achieve, to do every single thing that this country is meant to give us. We deserve to be here and we’re here to stay.”

Sign on Centro Hispano’s front window

Voces de la Frontera Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz told the crowd that with all of these ICE manuevers you have to ask what is happening?

“This is my opinion, but I do believe that there is an effort right now to issue a historic Latino get out the vote drive to get 48,000 people to turn out Nov. 6 to the polls,” she said. “We’ve really let the Latino voters know who is on our side. This is not just about Trump who is escalating his war on immigrants, a very xenophobic white nationalist policies … and he’s quite clear about it.

“It’s about who’s helping him. The people need to know who’s helping him,” she added. “And that you have the ability if you are a U.S. citizen and 18 years old … you have the ability on Nov. 6 to get them out of office and to bring in people who are not just going to talk the talk but walk the walk.”

Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller address the community at Centro Hispano.

Mayor Paul Soglin said that the City of Madison’s message to ICE is very simple.

“If you want to make our community safe, if you want to make this nation safer, then come to us and we will tell you if there is anyone of danger in the community,” said Soglin. “We do not need you making your determination that someone who may have some traffic violations, someone who simply may be undocumented or have some minor other offenses is someone who is of danger to our community. It’s very simple.”

Soglin said that the City of Madison would give the families the financial and emotional support they will need “because of this real tragedy that has come upon us.” He added that they would continue to protest the usage of the word “police” for ICE activities.

“They are not police. They are federal agents who are using their authority to come into a local situation and that deception is one of their many lies that they continue to perpetuate which is designed to create confusion and to worse an already bad situation,” Soglin said.


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