'Immigration is a federal issue:' Protesters filled City Hall after police assisted ICE in arrest

MILWAUKEE -- Protesters gathered at City Hall ahead of the Fire and Police Commission meeting Thursday evening, Oct. 17, with Voces de la Frontera taking aim at the Milwaukee Police Department's dealing with federal immigration agents, or ICE. This, on the heels of a controversial arrest.

Jose De La Cruz Espinosa was arrested on Sept. 23, and Milwaukee police assisted ICE in that arrest, something Voces officials said they don't want to happen again.

Cellphone video showed Milwaukee police assisting ICE in taking Jose De La Cruz Espinosa into custody. Voces officials called it out of line.

Tommy Molina

"Unless there is a valid judicial warrant and one that has been issued for an individual, MPD shall not use any resources for immigration enforcement," said Tommy Molina with Voces de la Frontera.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales characterized it differently, saying it was because of a warrant, not his immigration status, that police assisted in the arrest -- a request made by ICE.

"Mr. De La Cruz has a criminal history of firearms possession, delivery of a controlled substance, battery, receiving stolen property, disorderly conduct, and obstructing," said Chief Morales.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales

Chief Morales sat before the Fire and Police Commission Thursday to discuss the department's policies and procedures.

"The Milwaukee Department does not engage in sweeps," said Morales. "There were no sweeps conducted in the last two years. This was assisting another law enforcement agency to make an arrest."

Voces officials vowed to continue to protest -- seeking change now.

"Immigration is a federal issue, not one for local police," said Molina.

The Milwaukee Common Council's Policies and Standards Committee was set to address this policy more in-depth on Oct. 31 -- specifically addressing concerns and any needed changes.