The images are chilling, but the sound is worse. When Milwaukee resident Kristine De la Cruz took out her cell phone to record the brutal arrest of her husband by federal immigration authorities, she also captured the terrified sobs of her children, screaming for their father as he was hauled away.

Even more disturbing are the reports and video from the scene showing Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) officers jeering and laughing while they dragged her children from the car and handed her husband over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The moment was a tragic example of the trauma the Trump administration’s mass deportation agenda continues to inflict on families —  not just at the border, but in our communities as well.

That is why the ACLU of Wisconsin has demanded an investigation into the arrest and for all body and dash camera video recordings of the incident be released publicly. 

The ACLU of Wisconsin has long objected to MPD cooperating with immigration agents, as this only serves to reduce safety, divert scarce resources away from more pressing priorities, and encourage disorder and fear. When people fear that police officers will enforce immigration laws against them, they become less willing to come forward to report crime or serve as witnesses. This makes everyone less safe.

We also strongly support the reforms proposed by Voces de la Frontera that would require a judicial warrant for Milwaukee police to cooperate with ICE. Training should also be implemented to ensure that all officers understand that their primary obligation is to protect and serve our communities – not enforce Trump’s counterproductive and harmful mass deportation agenda.

In court, the ACLU is continuing the battle to reunite families and hold the Trump administration accountable for its illegal family separation policy. On October 24th, the Trump administration admitted to a federal court that it separated an additional 1,556 more families than previously estimated, including infants and toddlers. This is a shocking admission, and the ACLU will continue to work to reunite these families and mitigate the damage Trump’s unconscionable cruelty has caused.

But just as important as legal filings and court challenges is the activism of everyday people – marching, advocating, and contacting their elected officials about the importance of upholding the fundamental rights of everyone within our borders: no matter what they look like, where they’re from or the immigration status they hold.   

Kristine de la Cruz and her children may never reclaim the sense of security they lost that day when Milwaukee police helped ICE tear their family apart. But together the people of Wisconsin can build stronger, safer communities and send a message that these dehumanizing and abusive practices must end.

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