‘We Don’t Want You to be Fearful’: A Night for Immigrants and Refugees
A broad cross section of Milwaukee gathered last night to support immigrants and refugees who are being threatened by President Donald Trump.
The event, called Unity for Human Dignity (#U4HD), was a powerful reminder of how much the world needs a welcoming America.
Mayor Tom Barrett, who signed a resolution opposing Trump’s immigration policies, authored by Alderman Jose Perez, which passed earlier that day on a 13-2 vote, reassured the immigrants and refugees in the crowd that “we don’t want you to be fearful,” even though their fears are real.
He said that the Milwaukee Police Department would not work with federal agencies to deport those who are stopped for minor infractions, such as a broken tail light.
Barrett also said that the photograph of the young Syrian boy washed up on the shore is a constant reminder of the need to support the basic human dignity of immigrants and refugees.
“So this is what we’ve come to?” he said.
He then signed the anti-fear resolution, with a special shout-out to Alderman Chevy Johnson, who was in attendance.
Among the most poignant speakers last night was Raul Ortiz, a child refugee from Honduras, who addressed the crowd in both English and Spanish.
“When I was five years old I was kidnapped by bad people who take children away from their parents,” Ortiz said.
He and his mother fled to the U.S. for their safety.
“I am so happy to be safe here in the United States,” Ortiz said. “My mother and I applied for asylum. We do not want to ever return to Honduras because of violence.”
Ortiz pleaded with the president to show compassion for refugees like himself.
“My favorite president is Abraham Lincoln,” Ortiz said. “He freed the slaves. So I believe President Donald Trump can do the same thing with the refugees of Central America and all other refugees.”
Another speaker on the hardships faced by refugees was Regina Bakala. Bakala had been imprisoned and raped in her native Democratic Republic of Congo; her husband had been tortured. They fled to the U.S. and after a long, hard fight against deportation, they were granted asylum.
“I had to save my life,” she said of her decision to come to the U.S.
Sponsoring organizations included: ACLU of Wisconsin, Centro Hispano-Milwaukee, Felmers O. Chaney Advocacy Board, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, JCRC of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, LULAC of Wisconsin, MA’RUF Milwaukee, NAACP Milwaukee Branch, Pan-African Community Association, Refugee Congress, Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies at UW-Milwaukee, United Community Center (UCC), and Voces de la Frontera.