September 21, 2008

Mayor, Police Chief give Hispanics reassurances

Police Chief Wahlen and Mayor Becker hear a Latina's plea

Latinos' emotional tales -- about the cost and difficulty of getting legal IDs, the humiliation of racially profiled arrests, aggressive police procedures, houses lost when one spouse is sent back to his or her country of origin -- fell upon sympathetic ears Sunday, as the Racine Interfaith Coalition brought 200 Hispanics together with Mayor Gary Becker and Police Chief Kurt Wahlen.

Parishioners filed out of the Sunday's Spanish Mass at St. Patrick's Catholic Church shortly after 1 p.m. and filed into the gym, behind the 84-year-old beautiful and architecturally historic church, which is listed on the National Register. There they joined the mayor and police chief on folding chairs for a bilingual session, punctuated by immigrants' tears, and by frequent applause for what the mayor had to say.

Three women laid out the problem Hispanics face here:

Martha -- a mother of 10 children, including a disabled child needing dialysis weekly -- described her family's hardships when she was forced out of the country. "It was very hard for my husband. My son got worse, he lost his sight. We are homeowners, small business owners; we've lived here for 15 years; we pay our bills. Somehow we got through with the help of God." But she said her son cannot have a kidney transplant because he's not a legal permanent resident -- and "you have to wait 12 years to become a citizen." She thanked the mayor for writing several letters on her behalf.

Julia described an arrest. "When the police pulled us over, my husband didn't have ID on him. He was handcuffed, they searched the car. He gave his name, but the cop couldn't find it (it was hyphenated) in the database. The car that passed us, speeding, they got nothing. Me, being born and raised here, I didn't expect this. It's just not right." She believes they were treated that way because they are of Mexican descent. Police said they were stopped because their car had tinted windows.

Maria told a similar story. "The words 'racial profiling' leave us with a bitterness in our heart." She described a young man's arrest: "Police were very aggressive with him, knocked him to the floor, kicked him and put him in handcuffs.They took him to jail for three days. His mother took him his medication in jail. When he went to court, he was found not guilty." But she said his asthma was exacerbated by the arrest, and led to a heart attack, and the need for a pacemaker.

"His only sin was his skin color," she said.

All that was preamble for Mayor Becker, who addressed the crowd under a Racine Interfaith Coalition banner proclaiming "Peace in our Neighborhoods, Peace in our Schools, Peace in our Hearts."

Mayor Gary Becker, and translator Sonia Tellez

"It's an honor to be your mayor. Nothing would make me happier at City Council meetings than to look at the aldermen's desks and see some of the faces I see here," he said, adding -- with a smile and a nod to the two aldermen present, Jim Kaplan, District 4, and Greg Helding, District 11 -- "Nothing personal, guys."

The mayor, who has been a vocal proponent of immigration reform, said there are two reasons it is needed. "The first is moral: We're doing it because it is what any loving God would want. The second is common sense. It's self-serving from a city perspective. Unfortunately, some politicians have demogogued this issue to convince voters immigrants are a threat, the source of all evils. Unfortunately, immigrants have always been a target for politicians who want scapegoats.

"But I'm here to tell you, I value and respect the contributions you make to our cities....Racine is better off because of immigrants."

The mayor described the resolution passed by the US conference of Mayors in June, at their meeting in Miami, a resolution that urges suspension of raids, responsible immigration reform and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Becker explained, "Mayors don't get to write immigration laws, but the US Conference of Mayors does carry some influence with the members of Congress." The statement was met with applause.

Questions from the audience concerned similar issues. Asked what can be done about the cost of getting legal ID, the mayor responded, "There's no law we (mayors) can pass. The best I can tell you is we will continue to push them on the issue."

A young woman described to Chief Wahlen how she, and a black man in her car, were stopped on the way from the beach. She said she asked the policeman why they were stopped, and he reportedly replied, "Well, you looked suspicious."

Wahlen, who has spent 32 years on the police force, began by telling the audience two things they don't know about him: he has an Hispanic sister-in-law, and he has been on 20 Christian missions in Central America. He said racial profiling is a term used very loosely, and defended his officers, saying that in the case of the woman pulled over for having excessively tinted car windows, "Probably the officer couldn't see into the car," and thus didn't stop it because of the race of the occupants. "Our officers must have probable cause to make a traffic stop," he said.

He described the process citizens should follow when they believe racial profiling has been invoked: "There is a process to investigate racial profiling. Citizenship is not a factor in the investigation. Simply come down to the police station and ask for a complaint form. We may interview you. I am involved in all complaints. I can assure you, I take them all seriously."

Wahlen told the crowd, to applause, "I want an aggressive police department. But there is no place for unprofessional conduct."

RIC will hold another meeting on Oct. 21. The mayor has agreed to attend.

Sunday's Spanish Mass at the beautiful St. Patrick's Catholic Church


  1. I have no problem with immigrants who want to come here to have a better lives for themselves and their families, who come by legal means, and who are willing to work their butts off to get it. But people who come here and immediately commit a crime by being here illegally, I have a problem with. I have a problem with immigrants who come here and immediately apply for (and get) public assistance without ever contributing to the system. I have a problem with immigrants who live in the United States for 20 years and can't speak enough English to order a pizza or to speak with their child's teachers.

  2. WOW, what is this City, County, State and Country coming to?


    This crap from RIC is a joke.

    OBEY THE LAW AND YOU WON'T GET STOPPED BY THE POLICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Coming to, or remaining in, the US without permission or proper documentation is not a crime. It is a civil violation. Deportation proceedings are civil proceedings. Civil law is distinct from criminal law in a lot of ways.

    I know many people wish it were criminal and act as though it is - but the fact is that it is not. Something can be illegal without being criminal.

  4. Helding=Liberal

  5. Helding = wanting to be Mayor

    Sorry not going to happen. If you can not even get the small City dept of Car 25 working as it should, how can you be expected to run a City?

  6. I too have no issue with those who come here by legal methods. However Illegals must go! Seams I will be calling the City Clerk to see how we start the recall.

  7. I must live in a protected area. The Hispanics I know work their butts off, everyone one them...Mom, dad, kids. I ones I talked to save their $$ and buy clothing at Value Village and send it to relatives in Mexico. And they were always at work. I have no idea if they were "illegal" but they sure did work EVERY DAY. And when one was sick the others took over. I am amazed at them. Personally I want to immigrate to Mexico and live there for the rest of my life.

  8. Knowing the difference between civil and criminal law makes me well-informed, not liberal.

    I have never tried to run CAR 25, so I am not sure how I could have failed at that.

  9. Colt -

    The state elections division publishes a manual on recalls:

    You have to file paperwork and that gives you 60 days to collect the needed signatures. In the case of the Mayor, you would need 5886 signatures. That is roughly 100 per day and they must all be qualified electors in the CIty of Racine. There are other requirements detailed in the manual.

    All paperwork regarding the Mayor and Aldermen in the City of Racine must be filed with the City Clerk.

  10. In a city where every social ill could conceivably be laid at the doorstep of our chronically high unemployment rate (the highest in the state), our mayor welcomes more illegal competition for entry level jobs, the scarcest in the area.

    He prefers illegals to the poor citizens our of city because they'll vote for him, illegally.

    Semantics does not change the economic terrorism that these invaders inflict upon us. Yes, most of their money goes back to the homeland. They illegally take our jobs, they illegally take our services, they illegally take our money, and then they DEMAND rights for doing so. And the mayor stands there with a greasy face and splattered shirt grinning mindlessly.

    Helding, what's your point? Civil proceedings mean nothing? We can ignore lawsuits? Try ignoring the one that is about to set city hall on fire.

  11. My point is that some people wrongly classify illegal immigration as a crime in order to paint illegal immigrants as criminals.

    Obviously, one should not ignore civil law violations. However, this situation was created because that happened. For decades, the US has had lax border controls. For decades, our state and federal governments have looked the other way on illegal immigration or expired work visas, offered benefits, allowed home mortgages, granted driver's licenses and generally ignored peoples' citizenship status. Some employers have flaunted the laws and some consumers looked the other way as long as the goods and services were inexpensive. Americans have hired babysitters, housekeepers, and gardeners without worrying about their citizenship. The de facto situation in this country was that it did not matter if you came here without permission or overstayed your VISA. From the standpoint of those immigrating, they were welcomed with open arms. Now, we have decided this is a problem and they all have to go. It does not seem fair.

    It is equally unfair to all the native born or naturalized citizens who assumed their governments were enforcing the rules all these years. Ordinary americans who were not aware how pervasive the situation was assumed all was well. Now they discover their government has been letting them down for years and the want the problem fixed. That is a perfectly reasonable demand.

    The hard part is coming up with a solution to this that is fairer to all concerned than the attitudes and policies that got us into this mess.

  12. This just depends on what your definition of "illegal" is . . .

  13. I think "anonymous" is jumping to a conclusion. It wasn't the liberals who invited the immigrants, and it wasn't the liberals who profited by having them work for bargain wages, while they paid the same as you and me for gas, for rent and for groceries. The ones who profited were the business owners and the landlords (and also the senior citizens, whose social security is being paid by "illegals" who will never be able to collect).

    I think Mr. Helding is just asking for fair play.

    If you want to find someone to defend the illegals being here now, why don't you ask a conservative?

  14. I have the ideal answer SEND THEM HOME. Works for me and I vote.
    But since Illegals get FREE health care home loans from the State can avoid taxes and can still vote in cities like Racine with the support of the Mayor and one of the Mayor weanta be's they guess they can stay and now Mayor Gary What did he do with City Money?!" Becker wants more here.
    I so do hope that MS 13 sets up shop next to both their homes so they can see the great joy that illegals can bring

  15. Jumping to conclusions? What "conclusion" would that be?Yes Len, all of those screaming for social justice, and the immigration lawyers - and lawyers in general, and the politicians just like our very own Mayor and friends are all rancid Republicans.

    Fair play? You have to be kidding. And you show me a SINGLE illegal alien who is paying one penny in social security taxes and I'll show you someone who stole an identity or is paying through a non-transparent - illegal - mechanism to hide their identity (and the employer should be in jail for slavery).

    Liberals want these folks here now, fine, the liberals can pay for it. Oh wait - they don't pay - they whine and scream about the social injustice of it all until they get someone else to pay. Those damn rich people with legitimate social security numbers!

  16. Len -

    ...The ones who profited were the business owners...

    Do you think the customers "profited" with lower prices?

  17. One more note for my friend Len - there is a concept of price points in economics. Social programs, which you may be a fan of, have provided benefits for many legitimate but also many not-so-legitimate "beneficiaries". When you can collect a check by sitting at home or doing whatever it is you do, you will have to be offered more than this check, possibly substantially more, in order to go to work. Without labor, the price point will increase until jobs are performed. Enter a workforce that is willing to work below the price point and presto!

    Social programs might have contributed just as much as illegal employers? Nah, that's almost nonsensical. Know what else is nonsensical? Wait until illegal "immigrants" obtain one shred of legal legitimacy in this country. Do you think they'll keep spraying lawn chemicals and washing dishes or will they, free lawyer in tow, go on the government dole that helped create the problem in the first place?

  18. Am I to understand that these people jumping the border into our country illegally are not committing a crime? What about the stolen social security numbers that they use? I suppose identity theft isnt a crime either! Also if they are employed using those SSNs and names that they take as their own then I guess its not forgery then when they sign the back of that paycheck that they worked so hard for. I had always assumed that if you break the law it is a crime but apparently those laws only apply to us LEGAL CITIZENS of this country!

  19. Wait there are 100's of millions around the world that would love to have the same benefits that Illegal Hispanics have should we let them in to? Of course we should unless of course we only want one subclass.
    Yes Illegal Hispanics are the club used to keep IMHO African-Americans down the lower paying jobs are taken from the African Americans by Illegals so now the African Americans are stuck taking the Government dime watching their intercity neighborhoods rot schools fall apart and drugs kill or imprison their youth. Who benefits the democratic party that now has the African Americans believing that only the Mighty Obama off the Cross can save them. When instead the Black Commuty should be pulling apart the democratic leadership for making them worse then slaves but hey they get food (food stamps ) Housing (Chap 8) all they have to do is keep voting for the masters I mean Democrats

  20. This article explains so many reasons why Racine has rampant crime. We have a mayor and police chief that SUPPORT illegal activity! From the comments made, it is apparent they have no intention of enforcing immigration laws or any law for that matter.

    Alderman Helding I think your comments are just further proof of your personal relationship with the police chief and mayor. First they hire your brother and then you "return the favor" by bringing forward a referendum and public support like this. You are nothing more than a crooked politician like so many others that have come before you. It is so nice of you to put your personal interests before the community's. Racine has your number and its only a matter of time before we vote your sorry ass out!

  21. Thats a really nice stain on your shirt, Mr. Mayor. You really are a classy guy that represents Racine well.

  22. Anon 9:55

    You might want to check Mr. Maack too, seem they both think they have the blessing of Mayor Gary " Let's Party on the City" Becker
    Can't wait for the story of Racine "Please do not touch me there" Hall to get out.

  23. "Greg Helding said...

    "Coming to, or remaining in, the US without permission or proper documentation is not a crime. It is a civil violation. Deportation proceedings are civil proceedings. Civil law is distinct from criminal law in a lot of ways.

    "I know many people wish it were criminal and act as though it is - but the fact is that it is not. Something can be illegal without being criminal."

    That is a lie. Federal law provides for both civil and criminal penalties for illegal entry into the country. In the past, illegals have generally been deported, but the crime can be prosecuted either way.

    Lying to people harms your cause more than it helps. When will you understand that? Stop lying to us! And an alderman on top of it. For shame!

    So what if the crime wasn't prosecuted in the past? Does that nullify the law? Seriously, I do not understand. If you don't get busted for a crime, then it's OK? I perform an illegal act and I dissemble about it for years. I do not get caught. Therefore, I should be rewarded with citizenship?

    Lies and specious reasoning.

  24. I guess I am not as well informed as I thought. I was misled by comments I heard during the presidential primaries earlier this year. Some follow up comments led me to look into this further and I found this document:

    Apparently, coming in without asking is a misdemeanor, while simply being here is not a crime at present. It is also possible to commit other crimes while entering - forging papers for example. The point of my earlier comments was that we should be careful about labeling someone a criminal because they commit one misdemeanor, especially when our whole system, until recently, was geared toward ignoring or even encouraging the behavior.

    For example, all of the bar owners who have video gaming machines that pay out are committing a crime - a misdemeanor. We do not label all of them as criminals. The state has deliberately looked the other way for years on enforcing the laws in this area. There attitude of all involved has been, "We know it is illegal, but we are just going to allow it." If the state sent out hundreds of agents all over the state and cracked down on this practice after condoning it, that would raise issues of fairness.

    This is a big issue and it does not lend itself to simple answers. Let me expand on my position for those who are interested.

    I do favor stronger enforcement by the federal government. I favor building the wall where needed and securing the border. I believe we need to stop the influx before we figure out what to do with the people who are already here. I oppose providing benefits to documented immigrants. Handing out welfare benefits freely attracts people who want to leech rather than contribute - this is a problem that happens with citizens and non citizens alike. I believe that if you want to come here legally, you should have a means of support lined up already - if you are not fleeing legitimate persecution in your home country. I also oppose granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. I favor laws and policies - including photo ID for voting - that would ensure only US citizens can vote in our elections.

    If we could drop the influx to near zero, which we could with good border enforcement, what do we do with those who are here now? We simply do not have the ability to round up and deport the 15-18 million (or whatever the number of the week is) people who are here illegally. To do this over 10 years would mean dealing with 4100 people every single day. I'm not saying we do blanket amnesty, but there have to be compromises made because of the numbers involved.

  25. "Alderman Helding I think your comments are just further proof of your personal relationship with the police chief and mayor. First they hire your brother and then you "return the favor" by bringing forward a referendum and public support like this. You are nothing more than a crooked politician like so many others that have come before you. It is so nice of you to put your personal interests before the community's. Racine has your number and its only a matter of time before we vote your sorry ass out!"

    I am a public figure, albeit an insignificant one in the grand scheme of things. I am subject to all sorts of slander and accusations and mudslinging. It comes with the job and I knew that when I ran for office.

    Leave my brother out of this. He is an intelligent and capable man who does not need me to accomplish anything. He is a college graduate and a veteran of the war on terror with air force security police experience. He went through the same application process everyone else did and was hired on his own merits. He would have been a police officer long before I was an Alderman, but he was busy fighting for your freedom to anonymously belittle him on a blog.

    My proposal and support for the referendum has nothing to do with the hiring of anyone. It is a response to an uptick in crime and calls from constituents who are asking for more police presence in the neighborhoods. It is also not a done deal. It requires the people to vote for it in November.

    It is hardly "putting my interests before the community's" if I propose addressing crime by increasing police presence.

    I always enjoy getting anonymous threats to remove me from office. I am sure they will work as well as the others have.

  26. Typical politician. If caught in a lie, divert to a different point. What about the sheer number of people with various cancers? I guess we should give up on cancer research because the problem is so big. What about overall crime? Huge, massive numbers there. Millions of people involved in criminal enterprises. Guess we should stop trying to control that, too. This could go on and on.

    Why is is worth our time and effort to prosecute all other crimes except this one? (Now that we have gotten past your lie and established that it IS a crime.) I swear, if the Gangster Disciples organized a political action committee and lobbied politicians, you'd be singing their praises, too.

    I have friends who are U.S. citizens who have lost their jobs to illegals. One was told to his face that three illegals would be hired for what he was being paid, after 27 years on the job. This man also served in the military and fought in Vietnam. Tell him that the problem is too big to prosecute.

    Oh forget it. It's a complicated issue. Way too big for us local yokels. Guess we just have to let the government keep urinating on us.

  27. fuzztone

    We should start the ball rolling in the effort to recall Mayor " Racine is my plaything" Becker.
    The tavern league would like to see both gone I think and should be one of the groups we contact as well as the City unions.
    Helding trys to get us to believe the task is too big nothing is too big if we are working as a team.
    With The Mayor he may have to do a Norquest when Sandy's cases gets further along and the truth gets out. Going to be a bad year for Demacrats and RINO's I am thinking

  28. Sorry to keep harping on the same subject, OK I guess I'm not, but I still love the blame it on the Republicans in the thread above. I know I know - ACORN and others are getting as many illegals registered to vote for . . . McCain/Palin, right? This kills me - if Republicans had voting drives run by entities like ACORN that would result in massive vote increases for conservative candidates, the liberals would kick and scream but also would be renting buses with meals included to take illegals "home".

  29. "I oppose providing benefits to documented immigrants."

    Greg, are you serious???

    The war on welfare has worked about as well as the war on drugs or the war on terror.

    I figure you also want a guest worker program which may be better defined as slavery or indentured servitude.

    Have some human rights awareness and maybe some compassion that goes beyond your pocketbook and those "god-awful" taxes.

  30. Mr. Helding: I wonder if your brother is ashamed of you??

  31. I don't believe Helding has a thing to do with CAR25...I mean if he does well then congradulations, becuase that channel is one of the best things Racine has going for it! You can see all the local officals on there in action as well as stuff going on around the who's ever responsible, Good Job!

  32. Its kinda of interesting watching this blog go off track like a speeding locomotive. Somewhere we went from RIC's forum to bash Helding. And why? Because he is willing to come on here as himself and comment. For that he gets riduculed, maligned, called names etc. How many of you are as involved in this community? How many of you are running for office? And you colt-we have been hearing about your recall for over a year. Why dont you hold a press conference on the steps of city hall and announce your intent to recall the mayor and offer yourself as a candidate. Who knows, you may have the misfortune of winning and then have to face the bloggers day in and day out. But you wont-you'll go back to blogging about this impending recall.

    Instead of griping about how poorly this city is run, why dont you bloggers offer some ideas. But thats too hard-its easier to burn bridges than it is to build them.

  33. 8:24

    A recall will not be necessary, with in a few weeks my guess is that our own Norquest will be out of office by his own hand.

  34. >How many of you are as involved in this community?

    I'm very involved - in paying for things. As for ideas, my input is not acknowledged for suggestions about the street sweeper schedule let alone things like Racine's growing international policy on greenhouse gas emissions.

    >Instead of griping about how poorly this city is run, why dont (sic) you bloggers offer some ideas.

    There are many good ideas offered in this blog as well as blogs associated with the RJT and others. Many of those bloggers feel angry about being as disenfranchised as a sheep at a wolf convention, so you might have to sift through a bit of emotion to glean the useful stuff.

  35. Anonymous 8:24 - is this by chance Mrs. Greg Helding???

  36. No such luck. My wife does not blog.

  37. I think if Helding's brother is truly on the police department as one blogger mentions, that creates a conflict of interest. I'm reasonably sure Helding is also on the city committee that oversees the police and safety budget.

    Crime in Racine is nothing new. Helding has been an alderman for a long time now. Why all of a sudden now that is brother is supposedly on the police department is Helding now giving the department more money? If fighting crime is the real motive, this referendum should have happened years ago. Seems fishy!

    I'm assuming this brother being referenced is the one that had a failed attempt at running for alderman himself?

  38. I dunno, I think Helding is ok,.as far as what I see on TV. Thanks Helding for the whole CAR25. I'm more worried about the alderman that never seem to say anything or take much of a stance on anything!

  39. I dunno, I think Helding is ok,.as far as what I see on TV. Thanks Helding for the whole CAR25. I'm more worried about the alderman that never seem to say anything or take much of a stance on anything!

  40. I dunno, I think Helding is ok,.as far as what I see on TV. Thanks Helding for the whole CAR25. I'm more worried about the alderman that never seem to say anything or take much of a stance on anything!

  41. See Colt-when push comes to shove you back down. How long now have you been threatening recall action? Over a year. Now you think it is a matter of weeks before the Mayor goes down. Obviously you know nnothing about civil rights lawsuits-it couldbe years before it is settled.

  42. You are right 600 and I am sorry the more pressure the communty puts on Mayor Garry " Big Love" Becker the better if the recall works or not eyes will be focused and media from beyond Racine will show interest in the activies here.
    Maybe even the New York Times!
    Then the Mayor can answer their questions about crime the ATM in the Basement of City Hall, Point Blue, the empty Art District that will help The Mayor understand that it might be a good idea to move on.

  43. Helding is off his rocker and sounds like a crooked politician. I also question why the referendum was proposed AFTER his brother was hired when the crime and murders were happening BEFORE he was hired. Seems very suspicious! Apparently Helding doesn't want to answer that question, but he'll spout off about everything else.

  44. I don't think the guy is wacky or crooked. I disagree with him some of the time - and let him know - but nuts or dishonest, I don't think so.

  45. More than how nasty that stain is on the shirt, I wonder WHAT the stain is on the shirt.

    Party On!

  46. All Becker needs in the picture above is a margarita in one hand and a sombrero on his head. Gary knows a good fiesta when he sees one!!