Members of Milwaukee’s immigrant communities gathered at City Hall on Wednesday to denounce the Trump administration’s updated deportation strategy. He has ordered federal authorities to enforce immigration laws more aggressively, including deporting people arrested for minor offenses.
One person standing with unauthorized immigrants is Elana Kahn of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. She says her relatives could have easily been subjected to an immigration crackdown nearly 100 years ago.
“In 1921 and 1924, Congress passed laws strictly limiting immigration according to nation-based quotas. They dramatically reduced the number of Europeans allowed to enter the U.S. These people, it was understood, presented political, racial and cultural threats to the United States. Three of my four grandparents arrived just several years earlier, before the gates had closed, but if they hadn’t, perhaps they would be among the tens of thousands of European Jews who found their way illegally into this country, either by faking German passports and sailing into the ports of New York, or to Florida by being smuggled by boat through Cuba,” Kahn says.
Kahn says the U.S. has often wrestled with striking a balance between protecting national security and meeting humanitarian needs.
“Yes, our leaders have to work to protect national security and the weight of that responsibility surely lies on our president’s shoulders. But, we’re not safer when we close our gates, when we treat asylum seekers like criminals and when we drive people underground. So, we call on Trump to move carefully and to develop compassionate immigration policies, including a systematic, fair path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,” Kahn says.
Kahn assured Latinos in Milwaukee that her group supports their struggle.