Waukesha is home to thousands of hard-working, law-abiding Latino and immigrant people. They work in factories, the service sector, hospitals, schools, universities and inn professional jobs. They are not harming the economy, they are driving it. They deserve our respect, not our distrust.

The 287g agreement that Waukesha County has applied for with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) drives a wedge between law enforcement and the people they protect. There are dozens of ways for people to be in this country legally and for varying lengths of time. Even to simply have no documentation is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor. But if your name is Dominguez or Hernandez or Gonzalez, 287g says you need to be further investigated. It sends a message that the police are not here to help you, they are out to get you. This is the message that is received, even if every officer in the department is well-intentioned and diligent. It makes a major sector of our community reluctant to call the police at all. Real crimes will go unreported. Real criminals will go free. We all are not made safer by this status, we all are threatened by it.

Law enforcement at its best is local. It understands its community’s problems and it understands its community’s people. 287g agreements federalize local law enforcement and saddle people here in Waukesha County with all the mess that is in Washington. We do not need this. Police here already have the tools they need to enforce actual crime. We do not need to make a bureaucratized, convoluted and broken immigration system yet another problem for local officials to try to solve for the policy wonks in Washington. Washington should solve its own problems. Leave our community alone.

Whatever faith tradition we come from, we are called to welcome the stranger, to treat our neighbors as we would have our neighbors treat us. We are called to be one people, not divided by nationality or skin color, not divided by government, but one people, united in our humanity, united here in these United States. Do not let the wedge of a bad immigration law drive us apart. Let us work together, safe, secure, and free to pursue our dreams.

Rev. David Kraemer