Vol. 12    No. 3
February 2, 2017
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                Shoring up the Defenses
I remember a time, about 35 years ago, when Republican Governor Lee Dreyfus declared that Madison was “30 square miles surrounded by
reality.” The saying was meant to chide Madison as not being in step with the rest of the state. Now that I think about it, Dreyfus’ saying was
probably the beginning of the characterization of Dane County Liberals as being out-of-touch with the average Wisconsinite. It was a
characterization that became complete with the election of Governor Scott Walker, a characterization that drives a severe wedge between people
in Madison, Milwaukee and rural portions of the state who have the same economic interests, but are driven apart by stereotypes and
assumptions. But I digress …

In this time and place, I have to admit that if what the Trump Administration is dishing up is reality, then I am so glad to be in, courtesy of Mayor
Paul Soglin’s update, “77 square miles surrounded by reality.”

I am glad that I live in a place where I can meet and care about Muslims and immigrants, both documented and not documented, who contribute to
the wonderful quality of life that I enjoy, people tragically vilified by a political candidate — and now president — for the sake of political power.

I am glad that I live in a place that came together on January 29th in support of Muslims, immigrants and other vulnerable communities who could
be prey to the whim of a president who truly doesn’t know what he says beyond his own personal gain.

I am glad that I live in a place where Alder Samba Baldeh, a Muslim immigrant, and Deputy Mayor Gloria Reyes whose predecessors were
Mexican immigrants come together to spearhead the planning of Know Your Rights/United We Stand. It was an event that expressed, once again,
Madison’s progressive values that defend the rights of all to live, work, shop and have fun within this 77 square miles.

Again, if what Donald Trump is serving up is reality, then please let me be found to be on the other side of the boundary from that reality.

I remember back in high school in the late 1960s that we read the Theater of the Absurd French playwright Eugene Ioensco’s Rhinoceros, in
French nonetheless. Basically as I remember it, Rhinoceros was about the people of a town turning into rhinoceros while the main character
remained a human being. It symbolized how good, every day people were turned into Nazis and how people were convinced to view the things
that they knew as real as now unreal. It was very powerful. So we need to continue to believe in each other’s humanity, to know each other’s
humanity, and resist being turned into rhinoceros.

One of the beautiful things about Know Your Rights/United We Stand was the expressed commitment of public officials to resist the mandates of
Donald Trump’s executive orders as it relates to immigration and Muslims. I am sure that the turnout of 2,500 residents gave these elected
officials the support they need to stay true to their word, which is to cooperate as little as possible on this side of the law with the federal
government directives.

Within that firm wall of legal non-cooperation is a weakness that has existed for a long time now. I remember back about six years ago, there was
a controversy surrounding the booking of individuals into the Dane County Jail who didn’t have official documentation on who they were. It was
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney’s policy back then, if I remember correctly, to contact the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) office
for help in identifying the individual. This would alert ICE that a possible undocumented individual was housed at the Dane County Jail and could
possibly start deportation proceedings against the individual no matter what crime they were accused of.

Now to be fair, it is important for Mahoney to know exactly who is housed in his jail and what their background is for the safety of those
incarcerated in the jail and those who are guarding them. That is important.

But the process of contacting ICE could have created undue economic and family hardships for the U.S. citizens, the children, of the
undocumented individual who was picked up and ultimately seized by ICE no matter the severity of the crime.

There had been some discussions between Mahoney’s office and immigrant rights activists to seek alternative forms of identification. It was
hoped at one time that a Wisconsin ID could be issued for all people living in Wisconsin, but that was a non-starter with the Walker administration.

Since then, there has been some talk by some municipalities, including Madison, to issue their own IDs. But the Republican legislature, that
freedom-loving body, has been making moves to quash any local efforts to issue IDs.

Another initiative that was going on at the time was to work with the Mexican consulate in Chicago to issue matricula consular or passports for
Mexican residents, regardless of their status, living in the United States. These would be official documents that would identify the individual to
the level that would be acceptable to Sheriff Mahoney and would then make it unnecessary for his office to contact ICE for identification purposes.

Now it seems to me that whole issue died down — and nothing was put into place — when the Obama Administration changed the deportation
priorities for the U.S. so that people that the Dane County Jail would ask ICE for IDs for would not be in danger of deportation proceedings unless
they had committed a felony and/or had an active warrant for their arrest. And so, on some levels, it became a moot point.

However, with the Trump Administration’s hostility to Mexican immigrants and its recent executive orders, undocumented breadwinners who
commit minor offenses could once again become endangered as Trump seeks to deport as many undocumented immigrants as he can get his
hands on.

I contacted Dave about this and he assured me that he is working with Centro Hispano on this issue. I pray that they come up with a quick and
complete solution so that the family units of many Mexican immigrants in Dane County do not experience undue hardship because of the political
ambitions of a U.S. president.