Waukesha County Sheriff’s deputies were certified under the federal government’s anti-immigrant 287g program, to interrogate community members concerning their immigration status and detain people for deportation. Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson secretly applied for 287g in 2017.

Voces de la Frontera’s Waukesha chapter held a Family Defenders Organizing Training on July 14 to prepare Waukesha immigrant community members to respond to arrests and deportations under 287g, incidents of racial profiling, and human rights abuses.

“The main way that 287g will affect us is through the separation of families,” said Veronica Esquivel of Voces de la Frontera’s Waukesha Chapter. “For me, this is the saddest part. People are afraid. There is a lot of worry. Parents will be stopped driving to pick up their kids and detained for deportation. We pay taxes, we work hard, this is our home. Even though 287g is being implemented, we will keep fighting. We need more people to join Voces and participate in our actions. By organizing together, we will defeat this.”

Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson announced the department had been approved for the program in April. Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clark Jr. applied for the same program last year but was rejected. Critics note that individuals do not have to be charged with serious crimes to be booked into a county jail, and they say the program has increased incidents of racial profiling in other communities that have signed on.

“Sheriff Severson is working hand-in-hand with the Trump Administration to implement at a mass scale policies that are traumatizing children and separating families, from the border to heartland communities like Wisconsin,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera. “Over 20,000 Waukesha residents are immigrants. Immigrants are workers, business owners, homeowners, and taxpayers. Sheriff Severson’s actions will increase discrimination, make Waukesha less safe, harm the economy, and separate families. As a community, our response is to unite and organize people who share decent values and feel compassion for the families targeted by these cruel policies.”

Voces is training family defenders in Waukesha to build a rapid response network for when Severson’s arrests of immigrant community members escalates. Members will be trained to document abuses and support people arrested for deportation, as well as their families.

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Voces de la Frontera