In light of the March 5 expiration to renew the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Madison community leaders gathered at a press conference Monday to urge a renewed fight to protect undocumented communities.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, Madison Police Department Chief Michael Koval and Latinx community leaders all spoke at the press conference.

After President Donald Trump’s administration terminated DACA in September 2017, only DACA recipients whose protections expired before March 5 could renew their applications, according to the Center for American Progress.

Two federal courts filed injunctions in early 2018 requiring the U.S. Department of Homeland Security renew and honor applications from current DACA recipients, however — an action which stopped hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from losing legal status.

Madison community rallies in support of DACA recipientsIn response to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, University of Wisconsin students and community Read…

DACA recipients, as well as those protected under the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act are still demanding an end to the precarious situation they are in and the passage of a “clean” DREAM Act.  

Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller called March 5 “shameful” in light of political leaders’ continued deferment of a decision holding the lives of 800,000 DACA recipients in limbo. Coller said the waiting has become “unbearable” for the 8,000 DACA recipients in Wisconsin.

“For our community, it has become the perennial waiting game, as elected leaders think, wait and defer yet again on making an equitable decision regarding immigration,” Coller said. “For our Dreamers, know the deadlines such as today are forever tattooed in my heart, because they represent yet another symbol of lack of proper advocacy and support by those in power for the Latino community which I love.”

As he worked with Dreamers, Soglin said he had witnessed first-hand the hardworking nature and civic duty exhibited in these young, undocumented people, calling the idea that they are “takers” a lie.

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Through community engagement, education or economic benefits, Soglin said most people in Wisconsin recognize the importance of undocumented immigrants to the state. Immigrants make up about 80 percent of hired help on dairy farms in the state, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Citing a Marquette University Law School poll released March 5, Soglin said numbers reveal the support for these communities, with 71 percent of Wisconsin citizens supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.

“I hope that [Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville] heeds and recognizes that he serves the people of this state and the people of his district and they want this matter resolved,” Soglin said. “He is obligated first to them and not to the extremists in his own party who have held this matter up in the House of Representatives.”

Because undocumented immigrants with legal counsel are dramatically more successful in avoiding deportation than those without, Soglin called for a renewed effort in the state for better legal protections and services for undocumented immigrants.

Soglin added he would not hesitate to warn undocumented communities of impending U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, as Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf did on February 24.

Madison Chief of Police Michael Koval said his police are committed to serving and being inclusive to everyone in Madison, not just to permanent legal citizens. He asked for patience and forgiveness for his generation not realizing the “vibrancy” different cultures add to Madison.