The approved 16-738 Anti-Discrimination legislation included a reference to Milwaukee as a sanctuary, but did not seek to classify it as a sanctuary city.
Milwaukee County Supervisors affirmed their opposition to all forms of discrimination on February 2 by adopting 12 to 7 a resolution that states a commitment to value all people equally, with the goal of keeping the county a “safe” place for immigrants.
Plans were announced last week by President Trump that federal funding would be denied local communities that failed to arrest or detain immigrants living illegally in the United States.
“As an MPS teacher in a school with a 20% English Language Learner population, I see the faces of immigrants every day,” said Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson. “I interact with families of all backgrounds and I understand how important it is to protect their rights to equal opportunity and a productive future. As a young woman of color, I also understand what it means to face oppression and be seen as second class.”
Supervisor Dimitrijevic offered the resolution as a response to President Trump’s divisive executive order to ban US visas for people from certain Muslim-majority countries, his indefinite hold on the US refugee program, and promises of further action.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has said he will enforce Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, going so far as to say he will deputize his officers as ICE agents, while Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn has said it is not the responsibility of local police to carry out federal policy.
Supervisor Dimitrijevic offered the following statement:
“We should be finding ways to strengthen relationships between the community and local law enforcement, not create fear and division, as our sheriff has promised. The people of Milwaukee County have told us loud and clear that they do not want to be divided and they are opposed to attacks on immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women and other targeted groups. Today, supervisors said we hear you, and Milwaukee County stands with you against discrimination, hate, and bigotry. I commend my colleagues on the County Board for standing on the right side of history today, for showing courage today in the face of threats, and for boldly reaffirming our values. This resolution recognizes that we are a diverse community and reaffirms our commitment to respect all people equally. When the values that form our country’s foundation are under attack, it’s our duty to defend the Constitution in order that all people are valued and respected equally.”
Supervisor Steve F. Taylor said that he condemned discrimination in all forms, but did not support the resolution because he felt it was nothing more than political posturing for the benefit of select special interest groups.
Supervisor Taylor provided the following statement:
“The resolution is a grab bag of liberal causes that have nothing to do with the business of Milwaukee County. It’s not the place of the County Board to engage in political posturing in an attempt to satisfy every liberal special interest group just because they lost an election. I work for the people of Milwaukee County, and not a political party, and it’s time for us to start focusing on the critical issues facing the residents of Milwaukee County.”
Supervisors received hundreds of calls and emails about the resolution in the past week, most of them in support of the resolution. Opponents of the initiative feared the loss of federal funding as a result of the County’s position.