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Scores of protesters march on immigrant detention center in Kenosha, WI

By Ethan Costello |
July 9, 2018
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Kenosha, WI protest in defense of immigrant rights. Kenosha, WI protest in defense of immigrant rights.

Kenosha, WI - Protesters rallied outside the Kenosha County Detention Center, July 7. Dozens came together to demand the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a show of solidarity with the detainees held in the center. Demonstrators hoped to raise local awareness of the impact that the federal agency has on Wisconsin’s immigrant communities, including the threats of detention and deportation.

People gathered before the march at Kenosha’s DMV on County Highway H. One of the organizers, John Fleissner, explained, “What we are doing is pointing our forces in the direction of the machine that is actively detaining people and deporting families from this country. We believe in the power of the working class to stop these horrible atrocities.”

Tania Chavez, an activist with Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) and DACA benefactor, expressed her anxiety about deportation, which threatens her family.

Then YES member Luis Tapia said, “Look at all of us, we’re together. And it’s great to see that I have people that will stand up for the people locked up, not being able to see their families.”

Tapia retold his chilling history of having to cross the border as a baby and the difficulties he and his brother had to endure just to get to safety within the U.S. Tapia ended his speech by calling, “If we don’t get it?” and the crowd responding, “Shut it down!”

The protesters formed a rank with banners and signs held high and proceeded to march up the highway, towards the detention center. Chants continued for several minutes followed by a speech from Fernanda Jimenez of YES. With power in her voice, she told her story of running from ICE and at the end her message was clear, “We need solidarity in the struggle if we hope to win!”

“We do not abolish ICE without standing with our Black and refugee communities, we do not pass a Clean Dream Act unless we stand with no Muslim ban, unless we stand with ending racial profiling. If you only stand for one issue, how can you stand for every issue? You stand for every issue; it is one struggle,” Jimenez said.

Considering Trump’s most recent order allowing for the detention of refugees indefinitely, this action is a beautiful and much-needed act of solidarity among the people of southeastern Wisconsin. Jess Patel, the primary organizer of the action, said this is the beginning of a long struggle and is looking forward to future actions within our communities.

Local community activists, namely members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), organized the rally.

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