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Aldermen Tate, Perez submit resolution supporting Fierro
Racine City Council

Aldermen Tate, Perez submit resolution supporting Fierro

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RACINE — Alderman John Tate II and Alderman Henry Perez submitted a resolution for the the City Council to consider on Monday that, if passed, would request a stay of deportation for Racine resident Ricardo Fierro.

On July 24, Fierro was at his home after leaving his mother’s house and was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Fierro is currently being held at a detention facility in Dodge County.

In addition to requesting a stay of deportation, the proposed resolution requests Fierro be returned to his family and the community and be provided a "reasonable route to achieve the status of citizen of the United States."

Perez said that as a Cuban immigrant and former law enforcement official, he decided to co-sign the bill with Tate to send a message.

"I think that ICE is doing their job — I don’t blame them — but I think they should be going after the hardcore criminals," Perez said. "I understand that (Fierro) may be here illegally but we give people second chances all the time and he’s a contributing member of our society."

The resolution is scheduled to go before the City Council on Monday where the expectation is the council will vote to refer it to the Committee of the Whole. The council could also choose to forego the Committee of the Whole and vote on the resolution on Monday.

The resolution

One argument the resolution made for staying Fierro's deportation is that, "Fierro has known only Racine as his home since he was a teenager and has over twenty years of living responsibly in our community."

Fierro first came to the United States legally as a teenager with his family in 1995 but the family overstayed its visa.

According to ICE, Fierro was deported to Mexico in August 1997. His deportation came four months before Fierro turned 18 years old, according to court records containing his date of birth.

Friends and family members said Fierro was deported while trying to bring medicine back from Mexico to the U.S. for his brother. Fierro returned to the U.S. sometime in 1998.

The resolution also mentions his seven children, who are all American citizens, and the outpouring of support he and his family have received since his detention.

"(Fierro) has made positive contributions to the City, School District and other governmental bodies, has made positive contributions to the religious community, and has made positive contributions to the Hispanic and Latin-American community," the resolution reads. "(L)eaders, speaking in his support include the Superintendent of Schools for Racine Unified School District, current and former Mayors of the City of Racine, the Racine County Executive and state and federal legislators."

Support from LULAC

Two weeks ago when Domingo Garcia was elected national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, he did not think his organization would focus a national campaign around a family in Racine.

After hearing what happened to Fierro, LULAC decided it was going to form a national campaign asking for the release of Fierro and raising funds to help pay for his legal defense.

“Ricardo is the face of what’s happening to many immigrants across America under the zero tolerance policy implemented by (President Donald) Trump,” Garcia said. “We want to show America that here you have someone who came in when he was very young, who’s an established, well respected member of the community, a father to U.S. born children, and facing deportation to a country he hasn’t seen since he was a boy.”

Since Fierro’s arrest there has been an outpouring of support for him and his family. State legislators have signed letters to ICE advocating for his release, along with other public officials.

Garcia said LULAC is also organizing a petition to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who represents the district Fierro lives in; and U.S. senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, who both represent Wisconsin.

The petition was launched on Thursday, and there are more than 1,200 signatures.

“People are energized and are wanting to mobilize over what’s happening to the children on the border,” Garcia said adding there are other stories like Fierro’s that are getting attention. “It’s heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story and LULAC, as well as other organizations are stepping up to say, ‘No. This is not fair. This is not what the Statue of Liberty stands for. This is not what the American flag stands for.’”

The Journal Times has reached out to the offices of Ryan, Baldwin and Johnson multiple times for comment on Fierro’s case but has not received any comments.

Garcia said politicians “need to start listening to the Latino community.”

“Many of them are voters, they do care, they are engaged and the eyes of America are on Racine, Wis., and what’s happening to this family,” Garcia said. “Our immigration system is broken. But you don’t punish children, you don’t punish families because of corrupt politicians in Washington.”

Fundraising for Fierro family

The Racine Interfaith Coalition is also raising funds to help support Fierro’s family through a GoFundMe page.

Linda Boyle, co-president of Racine Interfaith Coalition, said the Fierro family needs help paying for basic things like bills and school supplies.

“It’s going to be for general living expenses at this point,” Boyle said. “It’s for the family.”

Boyle has been in contact with the family daily since Fierro was arrested.

“I feel so sorry for those children, it’s really hitting them now,” Fierro said. “They realized how severe this is and the kids are having more and more trouble sleeping.”

Fierro has five biological children and two step children. All of them are U.S. citizens. 

“It continues to be, not only a horrible situation for Ricardo (Fierro) but for his family,” Boyle said but added that, “This community has come together in a wonderful, supportive manner, I am just so proud of this community and how they are stepping up.”

"I think that ICE is doing their job — I don’t blame them — but I think they should be going after the hardcore criminals," Perez said. "I understand that (Fierro) may be here illegally but we give people second chances all the time and he’s a contributing member of our society." 

Henry Perez, Racine Alderman

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