- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

ABBOTSFORD, Wis. (AP) - Law enforcement agencies in central Wisconsin are making an extra effort to reach out to people in the Hispanic community to address possible anxiety over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s deportation efforts.

Authorities are reassuring Latinos that police officers and county deputies aren’t acting as agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Wausau Daily Herald (http://wdhne.ws/2mCJZQr ) reported.

Marathon County Chief Deputy Chad Billeb said authorities are concerned immigrants might refuse to call police if they’re witnesses or victims of crimes, out of fear that local officers will detain them if they lack proper documents to be in the country legally.

He said authorities are also concerned about potentially dangerous situations that could occur if people try to elude police at traffic stops.

“Everybody is really scared,” said Nivia Castillo, the owner of Super Mercado La Tropicana, a Hispanic grocery store in downtown Abbotsford. “People are afraid to be driving, or to go to Wausau or Marshfield for shopping.”

Tony Gonzalez, owner of EAG Interpreters Hispanic Outreach and an advocate for Hispanic people and issues, is helping law enforcement officers reach immigrants to deliver their message.

“I’m a citizen and everything,” Gonzalez said. “But I’m waiting for someone to come and stop me. … I mean, who are they going to target? A guy who is brown like me.”

Billeb said there is no evidence that ICE agents are operating in central Wisconsin, and that the federal agency has always contacted local police agencies in the past.

Portage County has about 2,100 Hispanic residents, and Marathon County has about 3,200 Hispanic residents, according to 2014-2015 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Those figures don’t account for people living in the U.S. illegally.

In Wisconsin, there are about 71,000 immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, according to figures compiled by New American Economy, a group of business leaders and mayors who support immigration reforms.

___

Information from: Wausau Daily Herald Media, http://www.wausaudailyherald.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide