Thriving Hispanic community in Wisconsin lives in fear of ICE raids

Global Business

One week before the midterm elections in the U.S., President Donald Trump unveiled a tough, new proposal on immigration. Trump told the news outlet, Axios, he wants to remove the right to citizenship for children of non-citizens born in the United States.

He claims he can do that with an executive order, a view at odds with most legal scholars. Birth-right citizenship is in the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. President Trump has stepped up his tough rhetoric on immigration in recent weeks.

CGTN’s Nathan King reports on how it’s an issue very much on people’s minds.

The city of Abbotsford in the U.S. state of Wisconsin is a quiet, unassuming town of just over 2,300 people. Judging from the emptiness of its main street, it’s seen better days, but one small corner of the block is thriving.

The bar La Botana feels more like Mexico City than Central Wisconsin. Ivone Vazquez opened the bar with her husband to cater for the growing Hispanic community that now make up about 25-percent of the population.

 It’s also as a place that brings the whole community together.

“Here in Abbotsford we have Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, but we also have a lot of white people, so that’s my community. I went to school here. So, this is my community, not just the Hispanics,” Vazquez said.

“A lot of the white people, they love this place. They say it’s like being in Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, because they have the feeling of music in Spanish.”

While Hispanic immigration has brought much needed economic activity to the quiet, sleepy town, the anti-immigration rhetoric in the U.S. is casting a shadow.

La Tropicana supermarket in the town was thriving when CGTN visited, but just a few weeks ago it was deserted. Rumors of an immigration raid kept people at home, and in this climate, rumors travel faster than facts.

Calming fears and getting the facts out to the Hispanic community is the job of Ivone’s father, Alejandro. He was a journalist back in Mexico. In Wisconsin, he has a radio station.

Since 2004, he’s run Noticias, a Spanish-language newspaper. It serves as a reassuring voice in the community, especially on immigration.

“When I.C.E. is coming, they come for people who have orders of deportation, or arrest, or people who have criminal records. If you are a bad boy, man don’t care where you are from,” he said.

There is fear in the community, and Alejandro knows it. Family photos published in paper don’t have names next to them. He says the community is counting on him

“It’s a big, big responsibility,” Alejandro said. “I want to see a nice community, a strong community and I want to do whatever I need to push for a great community.”

Maria Fernanda Perez discusses immigration policy in the US

CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke to Maria Fernanda Perez about Washington’s policies towards immigration with Mexico. Perez is an associate director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.