State Representatives JoCasta Zamarripa and Chris Taylor joined child advocates, pediatricians, and religious community members Wednesday morning in opposing the ongoing separation of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The opposition comes as Governor Scott Walker ordered two dozen Wisconsin National Guard members to Arizona’s southern border on Monday, with more expected to be deployed in coming weeks.
Centro Hispano of Dane County Executive Director and Salvadoran immigrant Karen Menendez Coller emphasizes the urgency many Central American immigrants experience as they seek asylum in the United States.
“Immigration is never a choice. It is not a choice to leave your culture, your network, [and] your safety zone for uncertainty and the unknown,” Menendez Coller says.
“That uncertainty is worth everything when the potential beacon of safety and hope that has been America is there to receive you. When all you want to do is to contribute, to give, to become a part of something better, to survive and live a dignified life, and that is just not possible in your country of birth, there is room to wait, to choose not to come. What would you do if you were in the same situation?”
Speaking with WORT’s Assistant News Director Nina Kravinksy, Wisconsin National Guard spokesman Captain Joe Trevato outlines how the service members will operate in Arizona.
“Almost all National Guard units, soldiers, [or] airmen that are involved are in support functions and not dealing directly with anyone on the border, nor will they be physically located on the border,” Cpt. Trevato notes.
“Our job in the National Guard is to assist civil authorities in times of need, and that’s what our job is in this case. So in this case, we’re assisting the National Guard as it goes about assisting the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol with securing the southwest border.”
Trevato also clarifies that while service members will still be under Wisconsin control, their funding will come from the Department of Defense rather than directly from Wisconsin taxpayers.
Seven governors, including moderate Republicans Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, will not send resources to the border due to the “cruel and inhumane” treatment of children.
Despite the administrative capacity in which most Wisconsin National Guard members will serve, Representative Taylor believes that any engagement at the border amounts to complicity with inhumane family separation practices.
“Even if our troops [aren’t] actively…the ones taking the children, they are there to work to free up those who will be responsible for taking children, toddlers, [and] infants from their mothers and putting them in a detention center,” stresses Rep. Taylor.
“So, it is an abhorrent thing to send our National Guard to in any way assist in doing that or facilitating that.
Also today, President Trump issued an executive order ending his administration’s family separation policy by indefinitely detaining parents and children together at the border. That order will likely face additional legal challenges as a 1997 federal court decision known as the “Flores Settlement” prohibits the government from detaining children in custody for more than 20 days.
Voces de la Frontera and the New Sanctuary Movement of Milwaukee will hold an interfaith rally at 9:00 AM June 21st, at the Milwaukee ICE office, 310 E. Knapp St., to demand an immediate halt to the imprisonment of families at the border and in Wisconsin.