Milwaukee immigration attorney advises Delavan-Darien School District residents to be prepared

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Xavier Ward
Thursday, March 16, 2017

DELAVAN—Immigration policy hasn't yet changed, but being ready for the worst is important for undocumented immigrants, Milwaukee immigration attorney Molly Smiltneek told people at Phoenix Middle School on Thursday.

“It's important to plan for whatever the future may be,” said Delavan-Darien School District Superintendent Robert Crist.

Crist recently sent an email to district residents detailing what to do in case of an immigration raid.

The school district hosted Smiltneek in response to concerns from parents and students about potential raids by federal immigration agents.

About 40 people attended Thursday.

About 48 percent of district families are Hispanic, and some of them might be undocumented, Crist said.

Everyone, regardless of their immigration status, should know their rights when dealing with authorities, Smiltneek said.

“I don't want to get pulled over for the color of my skin,” said Javier Aguiler of Delavan.

As a citizen, Aguiler doesn't want his tax dollars pay for such raids because most community members are legal residents or citizens, he said.

Aguiler said he loves America and is not leaving, but the profiling of Mexican-Americans happens too often.

Smiltneek instructed the crowd what to do if immigration agents arrive at their homes or if they are stopped while driving.

Smiltneek said legal residents should comply and provide proof of residency, such as a driver's license, as soon as they can produce it.

Those who have undocumented friends or family members need to know what to do if they are detained, she said.

Smiltneek said federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents can use three kinds of warrants: arrest, search and detainment.

Smiltneek said people don't have to open the door until they verify a warrant is legitimate.

Judges must sign search and arrest warrants. If an arrest warrant doesn't have the name and description of the person authorities are looking for, it is invalid, Smiltneek said.

If a search warrant does not contain a description of the space authorities are allowed to search, residents can say they do not consent to the search, Smiltneek said.

Smiltneek recommended people draft an emergency plan, set aside emergency savings and have a trusted documented resident or U.S. citizen ready to look after the children of those who are deported or detained.

Those detained with an ICE warrant would be transported to detainment facilities in Juneau or Kenosha counties, she said.

Ron Sandoval, the coordinator of the dual language program in the Delavan-Darien School District, translated Thursday for non-English speakers.

John Nelson of Delavan said he has multiple Mexican friends who are not afraid of deportation, so he wasn't sure why people were upset.

“Rumors are rumors,” he said.

Nelson attended the meeting to learn more, he said.

Delavan resident Petra Pierce said many people were upset by Crist's email last week, but others understood why he sent it.

She attended Thursday to get a better understanding of what's going on in the district, she said.

During the question session at the end of the meeting, a verbal conflict broke out between a few audience members, but it quickly dissipated.

Rumors about federal agents conducting immigration raids have circulated in Rock and Walworth counties, but local police agencies have refuted those claims.

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