Despite Injunction, Madison Looks To Help People Take Advantage Of Immigration Programs

Immigrant Advocates Say They Expect Recent Federal Ruling To Be Overturned


Even though a federal court ruling has put President Barack Obama’s recent executive action on immigration on hold, some cities like Madison are still finding ways to help immigrants prepare to take advantage of the reforms.

Immigrants rights advocates in Madison say they are “undaunted” by the federal injunction, calling it a bump in the road. Among them is Karen Menendez Coller, who directs a social services organization in Madison called Centro Hispano.

“Our families struggle with far deeper challenges, and this is something that we are going to overcome,” she said. “So we’re going to be moving forward assuming that that is going to be the case.”

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Menendez Coller was joined Wednesday by Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, the Madison Police Department and other organizations to announce a series of initiatives to provide eligible immigrants with application assistance. An information session is being planned for next month about the status of the reform.

Menendez Coller said a resource fair in April and free immigration clinics are also part of the plan. Funding for all of these initiatives were approved by the Madison’s city council.

“Once we hear information that this is going to go live, we want to be ready,” Menendez Coller said. “We’re going to be organizing volunteers, we’re going to be organizing the community and getting the word out about what we want to do.”

Advocates are also warning immigrants about the possibility of fraud. Part of President Obama’s reforms — the planned expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — was scheduled to begin on Feb. 18. However, with the injunction, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services isn’t accepting applications. Kimberly Koopman, who is with RISE Law Center, advised people eligible for DACA and DAPA to watch out for ‘notarios,’ and to not sign contracts or pay attorneys money at this point in time.

“If you do think you’ll qualify for extended DACA or for DAPA, what we recommend is you gather your identity documents, you gather your proof of continuous presence, you start saving money for immigration fees. But the most important thing is to not exchange money with anyone right now,” she said.

Madison is part of Cities United for Immigrant Action and is also among a list of more than 30 cities whose mayors support Obama’s immigration plan and have filed an amicus brief in the Texas v. United States lawsuit. Other Wisconsin mayors in the brief include Mayor John Dickert from Racine and Mayor Tom Barrett in Milwaukee.

As for what’s next for the future of this action, Soglin said they’re waiting to hear from the Obama administration.

“Hopefully, we’ll get that answer before the end of the week in terms of what their plans are in terms of an appeal,” he said.