Politics & Government
1:00 am
Mon June 23, 2014

In Response to Immigration Raids, More Milwaukee Demonstrations Planned

Protesters blocked the driveways to Milwaukee's Office of Homeland Security last week
Credit Joe Brusky

Dozens of Latinos staged a protest last week on Milwaukee’s east side.

Milwaukee can expect more demonstrations. Those taking part want a federal agency to stop arresting people suspected of being here illegally.

Last week, some protesters blocked driveways at a federal government office, so vehicles couldn’t get in or out. Dozens of others marched on the sidewalk outside the Homeland Security office on E. Knapp Street.

Police arrived, but did not arrest any demonstrators. One was Lauro Bonilla. He says he’s willing to do it again.

“I was ready to be arrested if necessary and we’ll be ready later on too," Bonilla says. "We’ll be back pushing whatever we have to push to get it right, to get everybody justice."

Bonilla says he came to Milwaukee from Mexico in 1979 and knows the families of some of the people ICE has arrested in town during recent sweeps.

As long as they continue, so will the protests, according to Christine Neumann-Ortiz. She leads the immigration rights group, Voces de la Frontera.

“The purpose was to send a message to President Obama that if he won’t stop the deportations, that the families who are being affected by these deportations in the community that supports them, will put their own bodies on the line to prevent ICE from going out and detaining and breaking up families,” Neumann-Ortiz says.

Neumann-Ortiz says last week’s demonstration was part of a national campaign that’s been underway for a few months.

Of the few people who stopped to watch Milwaukee’s, Curtis, who doesn’t want to give his last name, says he doesn’t mind. “People were voicing their opinion. This is America, they have the right to peacefully protest, correct?” Curtis asks.

The U.S. Customs and Immigrations Office issued a statement following the demonstration. It says ICE continues working with Congress to reform the country’s immigration system, and in the meantime, takes steps to protect public safety.

The agency defended its arrest of 49 people in Milwaukee during a recent raid, saying many have criminal records including sexual assault and drug trafficking.