Immigration raid

This young woman cries while standing outside the Koch Foods Inc. plant Aug. 7 as U.S. immigration officials raid the plant in Morton, Mississippi. U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants Aug. 7. 

The images of children crying out for their missing parents after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained 680 immigrant workers after raids at food processing plants across Mississippi were horrifying. And it is vital to ensure that this horror not be echoed in Wisconsin.

The Mississippi raids should be understood in context, as Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of the Wisconsin-based immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, reminds us.

“In less than a week we’ve seen mass shootings rooted in white nationalism, and a mass raid of hundreds of immigrant workers and parents,” explained Neumann-Ortiz. "These events have been directly and indirectly provoked by the Trump administration. They are intended to intimidate, degrade and incite further violence and separation of families.”

Neumann-Ortiz said, “Our answer must be to continue to grow and escalate our resistance to raids and a toxic culture of xenophobia and racism. We encourage people to get involved in efforts, to publicly condemn these actions, use civil disobedience and direct action to prevent ICE raids, and demand that our U.S. congressional representatives defund ICE and CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection).”

The United States needs comprehensive immigration reform. That reform should include enforcement mechanisms. But it cannot reflect the failed policies and the failed values of ICE and CBP. Agencies that casually separate families, that leave children crying for their parents, are out of touch with this nation of immigrants.

Wisconsin’s representatives in Washington should follow the lead of Congressman Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, who said that “by voting to abolish ICE, Congress can help countless terrified families experiencing abuse at the hands of this rogue agency breathe a sigh of relief, while making our country safer from actual threats.”

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Here in Wisconsin, officials should take whatever steps they can to prevent the Trump administration from coercing local government and local law enforcement into facilitating abuses by ICE that might mirror what we have seen in Mississippi.

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