MADISON, Wis. - Sanctuary cities are places like New York and Seattle that have passed explicit laws against holding suspects at the request of immigration and customs law enforcement agencies.
Madison does not have a law like that, but does offer some protections to illegal immigrants. If Madison is viewed as a sanctuary city by the Trump administration it could lose federal funding. The executive action has many Latinos in the community outraged.
As the program director of the city's first and only Spanish speaking radio station, Luis Montoto is in sync with Madison’s Latinos. He said right now their feelings are raw.
“Disappointed, upset, they feel like ‘How can America elect Donald Trump to be president of the United States?’” Montoto said.
Less than a week into his presidency, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to eliminate so-called "sanctuary cities" where municipal governments refuse to hand over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.
While Madison does not have a law like that, the city does have immigration friendly policies. City officials, like the police, will not ask or disclose someone's immigration status unless the person has committed a felony.
Some people said this could qualify Madison as a “sanctuary city.”
“In that sense, we certainly have that policy in the city of Madison and we've had it for a long time,” Alder Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, of Madison’s 5th District, said.
If the Trump administration views Madison as a “sanctuary city” the city could lose federal funding as a penalty. But Bidar-Sielaff said that will be difficult to enforce because the funding must be related to the issue.
“So you cannot have like transportation cut, because you are protecting immigrants,” she said.
Bidar-Sielaff said she is now focused on making immigration protections in Madison even stronger. She said she will take push back from the federal government to court. It is a fight Montoto said many Latinos will join.
“We’re close. We're tight. We're strong, and that's how we are going to stand,” Monoto said.