The Dane County Community Responds to
the ICE Raid
The ICE Raid
|Fabiola Hamdan (in purple is flanked by Kabzuag Vaj (l-r), State Senator
ChrisTaylor, Karen Menendez Coller and Dane County Sheriff Dave
Mahoney at Centro Hispano September 24th.
And then on September 21st, it happened. It almost began like a tremble before an earthquake. And then the major disaster began to hit Dane County and the state of
Wisconsin. ICE was performing a major raid in Wisconsin that would pick up over 80 individuals accused of being undocumented individuals.
“I started getting reports,” Hamdan recalled. “Usually during the week, I might have one or two calls. But on Friday, I received a lot of phone calls from relatives
about their loved ones being detained. And then right away, we have the Immigration Response Team that is local that includes Centro Hispano, MMSD and Voces de
la Frontera. Right away, I said that something is going on. And the city people like Gloria and Shiva started finding out what happened from the police. We discovered
that this operation was done and the Madison Police Department and Dane County Sheriff’s Office were not informed about it. Everything happened so quickly.
Saturday morning, I got more calls. We were trying to find out where they took them. On Sunday all day, I talked with the families about what happened, getting
information and connecting them with the immigration attorneys, Attorney Aissa Olivarez and Erin Barbato.”
As with any disaster, it is the panic after the initial event that can cause tremendous damage too.
“The big thing here is the amount of fear of people,” Hamdan said. “Everyone was panicky. And then of course social media is great. But then social media, when it is
not well-managed, can spread rumors. Reports about ICE arresting 30 people; ICE is in this place and arresting these people cause total panic. The Immigration Rapid
Response Team had to immediately create some sort of communications. ‘Yes ICE is here. Let’s not panic. Please don’t get the kids all scared.’ That was the whole
weekend. By Monday, I think I had about 11 of the 20 confirmed. Our group decided that we need to get the families to calm down a little.”
And the panic can spread to the children, many of whom are U.S. citizens.
“On Monday and Tuesday, a lot of restaurants closed,” Hamdan said. “I know this because the owners were calling me saying that they want to support their
workers, but then people didn’t show up for work. Who are the people? They are the main chefs. If you put yourself in their shoes, do you go to work and risk
everything? Or do you go hide? I had this mom call me. She said that they didn’t open the door for ICE. They were banging and banging on the door. Finally they
stopped. In the afternoon, the kids in the neighborhood were calling the five-year-old to come and play. He told them in a very quiet voice, ‘I can’t. They are going to
arrest me and my dad. I cannot go out and play.’ It broke the mother’s heart. ‘No you can go out and play.’ There were a lot of reports like that. The amount of trauma
that these families and children are experiencing, I don’t know how that is going to affect them. MMSD was really supportive. They put a message out right away
telling families that if they don’t feel safe, then don’t send the kids to school. Some of the activities on Monday afternoon like soccer also told people not to come if
they didn’t feel safe.”
While the raids were going on, no one really knew what was going on. While it is proper protocol for ICE to let local law enforcement to know that an ICE action is
about to occur so as to not cause confusion and for law enforcement to know what is going on within their jurisdictions, none of that happened during this operation.
In addition, ICE agents were declaring that they were the police, adding to the confusion. This could also damage local law enforcement’s relationship with Dane
County’s immigrant communities.
“By Wednesday, we had 18 people we were able to identify and locate,” Hamdan said. “We met with the families and talked a little about them knowing their rights.
We also talked about the wrap-around services that I am going to provide such as rent, food, utilities, and the basics. Some of the people who are detained are the
breadwinners. The immigration attorneys volunteered to come and provide information. We had a dinner and childcare for the kids. All of this happened at Centro
Hispano. We sat down and talked with the families.”
As the smoke cleared, ICE announced that it had taken 20 individuals.
“Most of the detainees are breadwinners,” Hamdan said. “From what I know, a couple of them have no criminal record. They were just at the wrong place at the
wrong time. Those cases are really hard. If you are here to do damage to the community, I think most of us would say they should be deported. But when we hear the
stories about those who didn’t do anything, we don’t understand. A major thing is when people have a deportation order and they never left. They stayed. But they don’
t have a criminal background.”
And during the confusion as the raids were going on, residents of Dane County were doing what they could to mitigate the impact of the raids.
“A lot of people have called to see what they could do,” Hamdan said. “I was so pleased and thankful that a lot of people called asking what they could do. Teachers
reacted quickly. Some of them held signs saying that we don’t need ICE here. A group of volunteers on Monday were taking kids from school to their homes. I think it
is very important for us, especially those volunteers, to realize how big the impact is. People need to support whatever events that we have. Centro Hispano is our
hub. There are going to be opportunities for volunteers to help. We might do a food bank or collect things to meet the families’ basic needs. If the breadwinners stay in
ICE detention or are deported, these families are going to need support. We have the collaborative of seven agencies. There are a lot of people donating. All of that
money is going to go to legal defense, which is very expensive.”
Now it is up to the local human services system and immigration lawyers to help the families pick up the pieces of their broken lives.
Next issue: The legal front
For general inquires of what is going on, contact Centro Hispano at Comunidad@micentro.org
Inquiries from Community Members Concerned About Their Safety - If you are aware of anyone who has been affected by ICE it is imperative that you immediately
connect with Fabiola Hamdan, Immigration Affairs Specialist at 608-242-6260
Inquiries from People Wanting To Help - If you are an ally who wants to help in a meaningful way, please contribute to the Immigrant Assistance Fund:
More information about the Immigrant Assistance Fund can be found at https://www.countyofdane.com/press/details.aspx?id=4119
By Jonathan Gramling
With the advent of the Trump Administration in January 2017 and its anti-immigrant rhetoric,
people in Dane County government, led by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi felt that Dane
County needed to be prepared for the shocks and aftershocks from the policies and
initiatives that would come out of the negative federal environment.
In October 2017, the Dane County Immigration Council was formed. Part of its duties was to
manage a $200,000 fund created by grants from the Vera Institute for Justice and Dane
County to fund immigrant-related services including legal representation and consultation
with the families of immigrants who have been detained by the federal government through
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, and other law enforcement agencies.
Dane County also created the Immigration affairs specialist position, filled by Fabiola
Hamdan, in Dane County Department of Human Services to coordinate the county’s
immigrant-related services and to act as a conduit for information on issues and events
that impact the immigrant community. In many ways, Dane County had established an
immigrant emergency management system. It was only a matter of time before it would be
put to the test.