Immigrant groups respond as RNC platform vows 'largest deportation program' in history

NOW: Immigrant groups respond as RNC platform vows ’largest deportation program’ in history

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Immigration is an issue Wisconsin voters have ranked among their biggest concerns during this election cycle, and it's also atop a list of promises Republicans make the platform delegates will vote to approve at next week's Republican National Convention.

The platform approved Monday by the RNC Platform Committee lists 20 actions Republicans promise to enact should former president Donald Trump return to the White House. The first two vows are "seal the border, and stop the migrant invasion" and "carry out the largest deportation operation in American history."

The 16-page platform does not offer any specifics on how that mass deportation would be conducted. In a chapter dedicated to border security, the platform pledges to implement stronger vetting practices "to keep foreign Christian-hating Communists, Marxists, and Socialists out of America."

The platform also calls to cut federal funding for sanctuary cities. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which advocates for low levels of immigration, does not consider Wisconsin to have any sanctuary cities. Milwaukee and Madison have adopted policies that limit local authorities' ability to join federal immigration enforcement actions, but not enough to be designated a sanctuary city by CIS standards.

At a rally Monday in Waukesha with a main theme of election security, RNC Co-chair Lara Trump said the GOP platform is meant to link the party with its presidential candidate.

"I would say if you look at it, it has Donald Trump written all over it," Lara Trump told reporters after the event. "This is his platform, and I don't think there's any confusion about that, and I think it makes a lot of sense."

RNC Chair Michael Whatley said the platform, while considerably shorter than past platform documents adopted by either Republicans or Democrats, spoke to the issues most important to voters this year.

"This is the roadmap," he said. "This is the way that we see we're going to help restore our southern border, we're going to restore our economy and we're going to restore our standing in the world."

Meanwhile, Voces de la Frontera Action, a pro-immigrant activist group, planned to demonstrate with the larger 'March on the RNC' protest group next week.

The organization's director, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, accused Republicans of scapegoating immigrants instead of finding solutions. She said expanding legal immigration would benefit the economy and public safety more than mass deportations.

"When you have this simplistic notion, you actually have contributed to more insecurity because now you have- with such difficulty crossing the border, it has become an operation for the drug cartels," Neumann-Ortiz said.

Neumann-Ortiz said she worried the aim of establishing the largest deportation effort in U.S. history would result in raids leading to undocumented immigrants being removed despite having long been productive workers and community members.

"This promise, very cruel promise to go after families that have been here for decades, worked during the pandemic, who are the unsung heroes of the pandemic," she said.

Monthly data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show a record high number of migrant encounters at the southern border last December, with more than 300,000. However, the most recent numbers are available for May, and the 170,000 encounters that month were fewer than any of the three previous Mays under President Joe Biden. 

Immigration is a top issue for Wisconsin voters. A Marquette Law poll taken last month found immigration was the second-most common response to the question of which issue was voters' biggest priority.

Nineteen percent said immigration and border security. Only the economy, at 31%, drew a larger number of responses.

On the question of which candidate they prefer on the issue of immigration and the border, 52% said Mr. Trump while 28% favored President Biden. Thirteen percent said neither candidate was good on the issue while 8% said they're both the same.

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