This Thursday the final meeting of the Dane County Immigration Task Force will be held at the City-County Municipal Building at 6:30. Please come and show solidarity! And join the Facebook event and invite your friends!
The Task Force was originally formed last May in response to community pressure – led by Progressive Dane and the Immigrant Workers Union – as the product of a liberal compromise on the Dane County Board. PD Supervisors had originally pushed for a resolution to condemn the Sheriff’s policy of ICE notification, but they were thwarted by the non-progressive liberals who comprise a plurality on the Board. (For some, standing up to “law enforcement” requires just a bit too much courage.) At the meeting, Supervisors Matano, Vedder, Hendrick and Richmond all spoke beautifully to the devastating effects of the Sheriff’s policy and how it is morally incumbent for the Board to take action.
At the time, the Task Force didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. The details of the Sheriff’s policy had already been widely analyzed and condemned due to a year-long campaign against it. So why was a new committee designated to “study” the issue necessary? In truth, it was simply a way for the libs to express their alleged concern with the policy without actually doing anything about it and keep the Democratic Sheriff (often an influential endorsement) satisfied. Nonetheless, with the aforementioned resolution voted down, the progressive Supervisors ended up supporting the Task Force as the only way to keep the issue alive.
Now, the moment of truth has arrived. It seems the Task Force, after about a dozen meetings, is poised to recommend what should have been done a long time ago. The key line reads:
The Dane County Sheriff’s Office will end the current practice of contacting ICE for cases involving processing of non-U.S. citizen detainees.
The Task Force is comprised of some good people (although it does include Mahoney himself as well) and I’d be surprised if the above recommendation wasn’t approved on Thursday. The question then becomes, what happens next? Mahoney basically gave the finger to the committee at the last meeting. According to Brenda Konkel:
Before I start with the meeting, I have to say, I was kind of appalled by the body language and pouting done by Sheriff David Mahoney during this meeting. He basically didn’t engage in any discussion unless he was being defensive. He pouted most of the meeting. And apparently, at the last meeting, he told them he didn’t care what they recommended, the practice of calling ICE would not change.
His attitude isn’t exactly surprising; his stubborness on this issue has been the only constant in his defense of the ICE notification policy (as for his justifications, not so much). So, will the County Board finally DO SOMETHING about this? Most of the libs are on record as opponents of the policy, even though they voted against the retaliatory budget cuts (Matano) and opposition resolution (Hendrick). They no longer have an excuse to stall on the issue. If the Task Force makes the recommendation to end ICE notification, the Board will have to choose between continued cowardice and upholding its own legitimacy.
We need as many people to turn out to the Thursday meeting to 1) Ensure the Task Force does indeed make the right recommendations and 2) Demonstrate an ongoing community opposition to legalized xonophobia in Dane County. What’s more, Dave Blaska is encouraging his Tea Party compatriots to pack the meeting in support of the Sheriff, writing in a recent post:
Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 13 at 6:30 pm. Aim your S.U.V.s at the City County Building. Take the elevator to the third floor. Bring your righteous indignation. Make your voices heard to the heavens.
This campaign has been going on for so long and utilized the time and energy of so many dedicated activists. Meanwhile, the immigrant community has continued to suffer. Show up on Thursday and demand an end to deportations in our community.