City News

What would a DACA repeal mean for Madison?

Dane County community members have rallied against President Trump's immigration policies several times this year. 

Image By: Betsy Osterberger

Erika Rosales came to the United States illegally when she was 12 years old. Today, she is a UW-Madison employee and a UW-Milwaukee student. Those accomplishments were possible, she says, because she is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient.

But it wasn’t always that way. Rosales recalls living in fear before she became a DACA recipient.

“It has been extremely tough, being in fear the majority of our lives since we arrived here,” she said. “Driving without a driver’s license for about three years. Driving from my home to work and then having a police officer behind you and just getting terrified for the sole fact that I was driving.”

Rosales’ story is not unique in Madison. City officials, alongside members of Latino community center Centro Hispano, urged community members Wednesday fight against a national repeal of DACA proposed by President Trump earlier this year.

“Policies protecting innocent immigrants from mass detention and deportation keep our community safe and stable,” said Deputy Mayor Gloria Reyes. “They allow us to continue everyday life without families being broken up and law abiding people from being sent away.”

In September, President Trump told Congress members they have six months to “legalize” the Obama-era legislation, which offers undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children protection from deportation and opportunities to gain citizenship.

The repeal, if passed, could also raise questions surrounding Madison’s status as a so-called sanctuary city. The city has for months been unable to say whether or not it officially falls under the definition.

“We’re sitting back and monitoring it, but it’s open for interpretation,” assistant City Attorney Marci Paulsen told The Daily Cardinal last month.

Madison Police Department Chief Koval wrote in an email to the Cardinal that until there is a “definitive federal policy governing immigration,” like a DACA repeal, local law enforcement will operate the same.

“We will NOT be utilized as deputized agents of ICE in efforts that center exclusively on deportation issues,” Koval wrote. “There are priorities far more compelling for us to focus our resources on.

Meanwhile, the state is looking for a way to tax Dane County if it doesn’t comply with federal immigration standards.

A bill, authored by state Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, would bar local governments from enacting “sanctuary” policies that block or hinder ICE. Municipalities would be fined for each day of noncompliance.

Mike Mikalsen, a spokesperson for Nass, told the Cardinal that Dane County is not currently in compliance.

“The real impact of our bill would be at the county level,” Mikalsen said. “They have an obligation to cooperate with the federal government.”

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