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.
up the pieces of their broken lives.
“This awful thing happened, but now, what do we do next,’” said Fabiola Hamdan, Dane County’s immigration affairs specialist. “How do we help the kids recover
from that? The Rainbow Project reached out so fast to us. Right now they have an emergency team for kids who have been traumatized.”
While the human services system helps those who have been left behind, it is now up to the Community Immigration Law Clinic, the Immigrant Justice Center and
other immigration attorneys to assist those who have been detained in their legal proceedings.
For many years, the CILC has been holding bimonthly legal clinics at Christ Presbyterian Church to assist immigrants with legal questions.
“We now actually able to provide direct legal representation to people who are at risk of deportation and are from Dane County,” said Aissa Olivarez, a CILC
immigration attorney. “I am funded by Vera and Dane County to be able to provide direct legal representation to people who are detained and are in removal
proceedings. The reason that Vera is so interested in this — and the county as well — is that we know now that people who are in removal proceedings in Chicago,
for example, which is our nearest court, have the right to an immigration attorney, but are not provided at the government’s expense if they cannot afford one. And we
know for the majority of our clients that their situation is life or death. We know that what a judge decides in terms of their deportation could send them back to their
death. We believe in due process. That’s a constitutional right for everyone, no matter what your status. Being able to provide representation to someone who cannot
afford it is what Vera is really trying to do and track data to show how successful someone can be when they have trained legal counsel by their side.”
The CILC funding was set up to handle a relatively small number of detainees at a time in processes that can take up to several years. The ICE Raid was more than
they could handle.
“We don’t have the capacity to take all of these cases,” Olivarez said. “But we do feel like it’s our responsibility to ensure access to justice and due process and
have everyone at least meet with an attorney to know what their possibilities are even though they don’t retain us or a private attorney. In this latest round, we have
been informing families about what the process looks like. We’ve been referring them to private legal counsel. And many of our local immigration attorneys are taking
cases pro bono to be able to assist these families right away. And we’ve also been able to work with the National Immigrant Justice Center out of Chicago to make
sure that each and every one of those people from Dane County who are currently detained in the Kenosha County Detention Center are receiving Know Your Rights
workshops so that they understand what the process looks like for them as well while they are detained and what rights they have while they are detained there.”
The federal deportation process is an adversarial process where the government — the Department of Homeland Security — is the prosecutor and is not obliged to
represent the detainee or provide representation. Detainees who don’t know their rights and are not represented can be railroaded through the system and deported.
Part 2 of 2
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.
On September 21, that system was put to the test as ICE conducted statewide raids that
resulted in 20 Dane County residents being detained and sent to facilities in Kenosha and
Dodge County. After the initial shock of the detentions, Dane County responded offering
immediate services to the 20 families. That was just the beginning of the response. Now it
is up to the local human services system and immigration lawyers to help the families pick
“We know that trained legal counsel representing an individual who is at risk of deportation
changes their success rate from four percent to 48 percent,” Olivarez said. “We believe in
this project and this effort with the Vera Institute. It is very important to protect people’s rights
and that they have someone who can explain to them exactly what is happening, explain to
them what the judge has said in their proceedings, what the government is alleging and also
challenge the government to meet their burden of proof in each case. The government has to
be able to prove certain things in order to remove someone from the country. And as trained
legal counsel, we understand what their burdens are and it is important that we hold them to
At the present time, CILC and the Immigrant Justice Center are acting as point people in the
legal effort, ascertaining the needs of each detainee.
“We’re following up with families this week to see what they decided for their loved ones,
whether they need more assistance to locate a private attorney or whether or not they believe
based on their specific facts of their family members’ case, whether they are going to move
forward and want to fight for them to stay here,” Olivarez said. “And the majority of our
families do. They don’t want to risk being separated from their family members for the rest of
their lives. They don’t want to risk their child never seeing their father again. We know that
many of them do want to fight. It’s just a matter of locating counsel that is going to be able to
assist them in the best way possible. For sure, we secured counsel five of the families. And
the rest of them, because it’s a case-by-case basis, we’re following up to make sure everyone
at least receives some sort of consultation to understand what their rights are and what is
going to happen next.”
Funding limitations are preventing CILC and the Immigration Justice Center from directly
representing the new wave of detainees for they already have a full caseload of clients. If
more funds are raised for the Vera-Dane County fund, more immigration lawyers beyond those
who will work pro bono can be retained to represent the detainees. Unfortunately, justice
comes at a price for everyone.
If you are an ally who wants to help in a meaningful way, please contribute to the Immigrant
Assistance Fund: www.madisongives.org/immigrantassistance
More information about the Immigrant Assistance Fund can be found at https://www.