A Group of High School Students Decorated a Public Bus With Advice on How to Evade Ice—Now They're Facing Backlash

Every year in Milwaukee, high school students have the chance to take their creativity on the road, decorating a public bus in a theme of their choice.

This year, however, the chosen theme is drawing scrutiny, due to its overarching motif: "Stop ICE."

Splashed across one side of the Milwaukee County Transit System bus in question is a mural depicting officers detaining immigrant families.

Meanwhile, another part of the bus wrapping provides advice on how community members can evade U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities, should agents come knocking on their door.

The bus art project was sponsored by the Milwaukee Art Museum as part of an ongoing teen ArtXpress program.

With ICE having recently carried out what immigration officials have said could be the biggest single-state raid in U.S. history in Mississippi this month, students in Milwaukee said they wanted to use this annual opportunity to speak out in support of the families affected by the Trump administration's ongoing immigration crackdown.

"It's something that we wish wasn't real, but it's something that people are actually facing now," one student artist involved in the project, Yazmillie Reyes told Fox 6 News about this year's chosen theme.

While Reyes and other students hoped their artwork would spark discussion within their community, some residents said they took offense to the project.

"I feel like them writing on there on how to avoid ICE when they come to your doorstep, I find, as a Milwaukee taxpayer that is paying for that, I find that quite insulting," one resident, Michael Percy told the broadcaster.

Reyes defended the project, however, asserting that it is "not anti-police at all."

"We just wanted to show that an immigrant can be anybody," the student said. "America was created off of immigrants."

The MCTS has not immediately responded to a request for comment from Newsweek, but in a statement to Fox 6, a spokesperson said that it allowed the students to move ahead with the theme because the Milwaukee Art Museum had paid for the ad just as any advertiser would. Further, the project did not violate the transport service's guidelines for content.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee County Supervisor Sequanna Taylor stood staunchly in support of the project, saying: "I am proud of the students who bravely stood up for themselves and their peers during such a challenging time for our country."

Taylor said she was inspired by students' art, which she said "draws attention to serious human rights violations occurring under our current administration. I applaud them for using their civil rights to protect the rights of others with this important work."

"Families are being ripped apart by the federal government's inhumane treatment. Our children in the United States see news images and hear stories daily about youth who look just like them being torn away from their parents—not only at the border but also in their hometowns across the country," she said. "I stand with these children whose art speaks out against the uncivil and inhumane policy of separating and detaining migrant families. We must not stop fighting to keep families together."

People hold up signs protesting against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on August 10, 2019 in New York City. A student art project is facing backlash over its message in support of immigrants affected by ICE's immigration crackdown. David Dee Delgado/Getty