, ,

Milwaukee Community, Faith Leaders Call For End To Zero-Tolerance Border Policy

Milwaukee Alderman: 'Instead Of Being Caged Separately, They're Going To Be Caged Together'

rally in Milwaukee
Some people in attendance said they favored family reunification, abolishing ICE and bringing back Wisconsin National Guard troops from the southern border. Ximena Conde/WPR

About 200 people attended a rally Thursday in downtown Milwaukee in front of Milwaukee’s U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services office. Protestors called on the Trump administration to end its zero-tolerance approach to border security.

The rally was originally pegged as a protest to the separation of migrant children from their parents upon crossing the border illegally. But in a reversal Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending the separation of families, instead keeping families entering the country illegally together during legal proceedings.

“Instead of being caged separately, they’re going to be caged together which is unacceptable,” said Milwaukee Alderman Jose Pérez at the rally.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The executive order calls for families to be held indefinitely — a point that will likely be challenged in court.

That’s because of the Flores agreement, which stems from a 1997 settlement that doesn’t allow migrant children to be kept in detention for more than 20 days — recent court rulings have made it applicable to accompanied and unaccompanied children crossing the border.

David Cohen, a rabbi with Congregation Sinai in Fox Point, said no one should be detained for extended periods.

Cohen said he’d like to see the government restore resources like the Legal Orientation Program. A program that provided legal advice to more than 50,000 migrants in detention each year, according to the administrators.

The U.S. Department of Justice put a pause on the George W. Bush-era program at the end of April.

“(If) people come across the border in the wrong place and they’re not coming for asylum, then there ought to be a way to dispatch and dispose of those issues as they come up, rather than put people in jail, in essence,” said Cohen.

Attendees, including Pastor Jorge Luis Mayorga with the United Methodist Church, want to know how the Trump administration will reunite the more than 2,000 children separated from their families along the U.S.-Mexico border since May.

“Keeping the families together, it’s good, it’s an improvement but we want to see how this is going to be implemented, you know,” he said.

The rally, organized by immigration advocacy group Voces de la Frontera, was attended by more than a dozen community and religious groups. Some favored abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and wanted Gov. Scott Walker to bring Wisconsin Army National Guard troops back from the southern border.

President Trump said Wednesday that the order allows families to stay together while keeping the border secure.