Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley and the Wisconsin State Journal really missed an opportunity to broaden perspectives March 11 when the State Journal published Bagley’s cartoon about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The online headline for the cartoon on madison.com was “ICE protects Americans from people who work hard for them.”

The cartoonist is attempting to illustrate the irony that the majority of undocumented workers in the service industry are hardworking and do not pose a threat. But he misses the mark. He tries to imply that we (Latinos in general) are harmless, but he only ends up belittling us as a community and promoting the stereotype that Latinos work only in the service field.

I am writing this column on behalf of 18 members of the Latino Consortium for Action. We are accountants, educators, medical doctors and social workers, as are many other Latinos in Wisconsin working in professional careers and serving as role models.

The editorial cartoon could have been smarter, while still getting the same message across. It is clear many people in the local print media are still woefully unprepared to deal in a straightforward manner with a diverse and growing population of Latinos in the city of Madison and Dane County.

We find the cartoon offensive for the following reasons, given the current climate of fear of deportation that many immigrant families are now experiencing:

  • The cartoon makes light of the act of deportation, which mirrors being arrested for a crime and jailed, and which changes the lives of not only the person being deported, but that person’s entire family.
  • While the words the officers’ caps and vests say “lCE,” it could easily be inferred from the side that the word is “POLICE,” and there is still confusion around the discussion to use local law enforcement to help deport individuals.
  • The cartoon also reminds undocumented families of their fears — that deportations could take place on the streets, in front of everyone, including their neighbors, to see.
  • The word “mamacita” provides a connotation of sexism and inferiority, and it is not endearing as the cartoon seems to portray it. This is not how anyone in the Latino community would describe the woman in the cartoon. Mamacita is not used by any of us to mean “mommy.” It is the Spanish equivalent of “hottie” or “babe.”

Our group’s Latinx Report, published last fall, details an action plan for education, economic development and health issues that we plan to discuss with the State Journal editorial board soon. We also will highlight challenges and opportunities facing this growing Latino community in south-central Wisconsin.

Mireles, of the Latino Education Council, wrote this column for the Latino Consortium for Action. Seventeen other leaders signed on in support.