LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
In Wisconsin, there have been protests against Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - in Racine this past week over the detention of four Latino men. One of them is Ricardo Fierro, a Latino activist and civic leader - the president of the local League of United Latin American Citizens. He was also an active member of the Racine Interfaith Coalition and a former local director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He was also undocumented. He's one of several activists recently arrested by ICE in what advocates fear is a change of tactics by the Trump administration. We're joined now by Janet Serrano. She's a community organizer in Wisconsin, and she worked with Ricardo Fierro. Thank you so much for joining us.
JANET SERRANO: Well, I'm glad to be here.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you know Ricardo? And can you tell us a little bit about him?
SERRANO: So I've actually known Ricardo for a while now. Growing up, my parents were actually very heavily involved within the church - St. Patrick's Catholic Church. And he was always very involved in church, in the community. And he was a great activist - is a great activist and very dedicated to his family and everyone in the community.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What you're saying there is that he was really a leading member of the community. And I'm wondering how his detainment has been received.
SERRANO: Everyone's heartbroken. I think what happened with Ricardo is - it's not heard of around here. And the fact that immigration showed up at his doorstep and arrested him is - it's very frustrating knowing that it's happening to our own community. And we hear of it in big cities, you know, like Chicago or California, Texas, New York. And it's happening in Wisconsin. And people, you know, I guess, never confronted it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We spoke with a lawyer in New York who's filed a lawsuit alleging that ICE is targeting activists like Ricardo for speaking out against the immigration policies of the Trump administration. The lawsuit actually cites multiple examples of activists being targeted for deportation because of their political speech. Why do you think Ricardo was targeted?
SERRANO: You know, Ricardo's been an advocate for the immigrant community, the Latino community. And he's someone who represents the community and is out there. And because he is out there, I think immigration targeted him for that.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You are also an active immigration rights person in Wisconsin. You've organized, as you mentioned, with Fierro many times in the past. Are organizations telling undocumented activists not to risk it, to sort of maybe stay quiet? Is that making people more reluctant to speak out?
SERRANO: I don't think organizations are telling folks to, you know, not speak out upon it. I think that's a personal decision - whether or not, you know, folks want to speak upon their status or their story. I have always believed that telling your story is one of the most powerful things there is - to communicate, you know, a movement, a struggle. But I think it's a personal decision. I don't think no one's pressuring anyone or pushing anyone to do something that they're not comfortable to do.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, then I must ask you about your story. Why are you involved in this movement?
SERRANO: I have a lot of family and friends that are directly affected by this. And I don't want to see my family being affected by it, my friends being affected by it. It's close to my heart. When you're living something, I think it motivates you to, you know, do what's right.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Janet Serrano is a community organizer in Racine. Thank you so much.
SERRANO: No. Thank you. Thank you for, you know, having folks know that this is happening.
(SOUNDBITE OF CALM SHORES' "ABSENT-MINDED")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.