Blog Archive

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Immigration arrests spark fear in Arcadia

By Chris Hubbuch
Lee Newspapers
February 25, 2010

ARCADIA, Wis. — Hispanic residents remained fearful Wednesday after federal immigration authorities made several arrests earlier this week in Arcadia.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gail Montenegro confirmed that agents were in Arcadia but would not provide details on the ongoing enforcement action except to say they are targeting specific individuals and not conducting random sweeps.

Rumors of raids swept through the Trempealeau County city of 2,402 people that made national news in 2006 after the mayor introduced a proposal to alert federal agents to complaints of undocumented workers and to penalize businesses that employ them.

Arcadia Mayor John Kimmel, reached by phone Wednesday, said he was out of the state and hadn’t heard about the activity. Alderman Kelly Diebold said he, too, was unaware of ICE’s activities.

Police Chief Pat Grzadzielewski was out of the office and could not be reached.

Emma Hanson, a Spanish language interpreter who works for local hospitals, said ICE agents knocked on doors Monday night looking for a list of people and made some arrests Tuesday.

She said people called her to cancel doctor’s appointments and she heard that others skipped work.

“Everybody’s scared,” Hanson said — even those in the country legally.

The Rev. Michael Klos, who celebrates a weekly Spanish Mass at the Holy Family Catholic Parish, said it appeared the people arrested had previous run- ins with the law.

Montenegro declined to say whether any arrests related to immigration status.

Business was slow Wednesday at the San Juan Mini Market on Main Street, where customers can buy Mexican food staples and phone cards, send faxes and wire money.

“People don’t want to go out,” owner Mateo Barrientos said. “The problem is the Latinos have a bad experience with ICE. We don’t like hearing ICE is around. Even I have papers. It makes a lot of people nervous.”