Local immigration rights groups call city immigration policy changes a ‘betrayal'

Posted at 5:10 PM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-05 18:10:48-04

Changes in the Milwaukee Police Department's Standard Operating Procedure (S.O.P.) on Immigration Enforcement have drawn criticism from immigrant rights groups, who are asking the mayor to abandon the changes.

Voces de la Frontera and The League of United Latin American Citizens held a rally in Milwaukee City Hall Wednesday to voice their opposition to those changes.

Milwaukee Alderman Jose Perez (12th District) said of the previous language "We are not a sanctuary city. We had good policy that made sense and it was driven not by politics but by wanting to keep everyone in our community safe and secure."

The changes to the S.O.P. were made in a recent application for federal grants. Mayor Tom Barrett's office released a statement Wednesday that said:

The City’s policy has been and will continue to be that it does not enforce immigration laws. That is the role of the federal government. Our law enforcement resources consistently have been focused on making Milwaukee a safer city, and immigration enforcement is not part of that effort. Milwaukee will not seek to have its officers deputized to enforce immigration laws under the federal 287(g) program.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of Voces de la Frontera, said the changes are a "betrayal" by Barrett who has said in the past that he stands by the immigrant population in Milwaukee.

"He said I will stand with we are asking him to stand up to (President Donald) Trump," Neumann-Ortiz said.

A spokesperson for Barrett said, "The mayor has consistently expressed his view of the importance and value of our immigrant community. His view has not changed in the slightest."

The changes were made by the city attorney and take effect July 6 according to the document. Click here to read the full text of the changes. 

The League of United Latin American Citizens wrote their own language for the SOP. Click here to view its proposal