A community group is asking that the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) stop collaborating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. This after a video surfaced Monday of an MPD officer assisting ICE during an operation where they detained a Milwaukee man in front of his family.
Jose De la Cruz-Espinosa was detained by ICE agents because they had a warrant for a probation charge on him, according to the MPD. MPD was called to the site after the family of Cruz-Espinosa refused to get out of their vehicle when ICE agents approached him. ICE agents asked for assistance from an MPD officer, who according to a statement from Voces De La Blah Blah, opened the vehicle for ICE.
Voces held a press conference Thursday to call on the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission policies committee to change their procedure orders for operating with ICE. In that press conference, Kristine De la Cruz, the wife of Jose, spoke.
“My world was turned upside down,” said De la Cruz. “Without him, I don’t know how we’re going to survive."
The De la Cruz family.
De la Cruz says her husband was a hard worker, who owned and operated a small construction company. She says he was also the sole provider for her family.
“They do not understand what a positive influence my husband was in the Milwaukee community,” she said.
Currently, De la Cruz is being detained in a Dodge County detention facility.
“Right now, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said De la Cruz.
The incident caught Mayor Tom Barrett’s attention, as he issued a statement asking the Fire and Police Commission to look into the incident. Thursday, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission policies committee was planning to vote on changes to Milwaukee Police Standard Operating Procedure 130, which generally says that the MPD can collaborate with ICE when needed. However, that vote was cancelled.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces De La Blah Blah, says this procedure is unacceptable in Milwaukee.
“This has to be fast tracked,” said Neumann-Ortiz Thursday. “Instead, we have been getting slow walked and stone walled.”
Neumann-Ortiz said she had discussions with the MPD in June about changing the language relating to SOP 130. She urged community members to attend the next Fire and Police Commission meeting on Oct. 3 to talk out against the order.
"This fear and mistrust of local law enforcement extends to children in these households who are living through a deportation of a parent or a raid. This is why the Fire and Police Commission members must vote to strengthen MPD policy against ICE collaboration," Neumann-Ortiz said in a statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin also spoke out against MPD's involvement with ICE.
"Local police do not have to deal with ICE the way MPD did the other day," said Chris Ott, the executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin.
The MPD released a statement about the incident.
"While officers were on scene, the Department of Corrections issued a violation of probation (VOP) warrant for De la Cruz-Espinosa’s arrest. Because of this warrant, and not because of his immigration status, MPD assisted in De la Cruz-Espinosa’s arrest. ICE agents ultimately took him into custody,” it says.
Kristine De La Cruz speaks at a press conference Thursday.
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