March for the rights of immigrant workers
“When we fight for immigration reform, we are fighting for democracy itself,” Christine Nuemann-Ortiz, executive director of the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, told the office. organization in Waukesha. Voces and the Allied organizations were three days in a nine-day march from Milwaukee to Madison.
Many of the walkers are essential immigrant workers, who have worked to keep Wisconsin’s economy going during the pandemic. Supported by their allies and family members, they march to remind President Joe Biden’s administration to keep Biden’s promises to protect immigrants.
Specifically, they want the federal government to create a path to citizenship for the 11 million essential working undocumented immigrants and their families. In addition, protesters are calling on the state legislature to restore access to driving licenses for undocumented migrants, which it eliminated in 2007. Voces de la Frontera was joined in Waukesha by elected officials, Stewards of Prophetic Hopeful Intentional Action (SOPHIA), -the domestic violence prevention organization Casa de Esperanza and other groups.
Nuemann-Ortiz said Wisconsin’s political maps are delaying reforms, which is why federal action is so important. “We don’t have fair cards in Wisconsin,” she said. “And at the federal level, Democrats are able to protect democracy and keep their promises.”
Milwaukee Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic, met the group in Waukesha to show her support. “We are with you,” assured the demonstrators Dimitrijevic, whose father is a Serbian immigrant. “We support you. You have always been essential, you are essential and you will be. As Christine said, we’re sick of waiting. We will keep walking until we get what we deserve. It’s not a favor, it’s not a gift, it’s a promise we deserve.
Jose Flores, an immigrant essential worker and small business owner, spoke about the challenges undocumented residents face on a daily basis, especially in municipalities where local police act as immigration cops. He called the fear that immigrant families experience “something personal”, explaining how difficult it is to worry that a simple shopping trip could end in deportation. Flores, standing next to his wife and children, said that “Immigration reform is what my family and I are fighting for… We need driver’s licenses for all and reform of the immigration system. ‘immigration”.
Tom Coyne, chairman of the Waukesha County Labor Council came to show his solidarity with the protesters. Coyne noted that the union he heads, which represents paint and drywall workers, has a large Latin American membership. On a larger scale, however, “the non-union drywall business is made up of about 90% Hispanic men and they get paid about a quarter of what we pay our union,” Coyne said. “And the reason is legal citizenship. We have a historic opportunity for our community to pressure the new Biden administration and Democratic members of Congress to use a simple majority to adopt citizenship with permanent protection for millions of immigrants. It’s a call to action. Coyne added that “people deserve the right not to have to live in fear.”
THE MORNING BULLETIN
Activist and advocate groups were determined to hold the Biden administration accountable for immigration issues from day one. In January, Voces de la Frontera joined the Brown Berets, a community organization that focuses on the south side of Milwaukee, and other groups in calling for a reversal of Trump-era immigration policies. The action came just an hour after President Joe Biden was sworn in during his inauguration.
In March, immigrant rights advocates and their allies held a rally outside the federal building in Milwaukee calling for COVID help for immigrant workers. Again, Democrats at the federal level were the primary focus. Rally participants carried out a mass telephone blast from Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office to ensure their voices were heard.
Voces de la Frontera kept up the pressure during its annual May Day march for immigrant rights. The current nine-day march began on Sunday, with hundreds of people gathered outside the Voces de la Frontera office in Milwaukee to mark Father’s Day and honor immigrant fathers who worked behind the scenes to support their own families as well as entire sectors of the Wisconsin economy. . There was food, music, and free COVID vaccines. Guadalupe Romero, an immigrant essential worker in the restaurant industry, was among those who spoke.
“I have contributed to this economy for 21 years as a critical worker,” she said. “And during those 31 years, I lived in fear. As a mother of six, I get scared every time I drive them to school or to the doctor, all because I don’t have access to a driver’s license. I am an essential and necessary worker for this nation. Essential immigrant workers have fought for our dignity for decades, and our time has come. “
Paul Vang, director of civic engagement for the Hmong American Women’s Association, joined Voces in the kickoff celebration of the march to show his support. “Immigrants from Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and other parts of the world constitute the majority of the workers who have worked bravely throughout this pandemic and lost their lives for s’ ensuring that we all had food and that our hospitals and essential businesses were staffed and well sanitized, ”he said.
“On this Father’s Day,” he added, “the families who still mourn the loss of their essential worker fathers and mothers due to this pandemic are the same families who still live in fear of eviction. . It is a moral imperative that Democrats in Congress and the Biden administration act swiftly on citizenship for essential workers. “
On the third day of the march, the message remained the same. From Waukesha, the group will head to Wales, Wisconsin. SOPHIA member Bernie Gonzalez echoed the sense of need after years of pressure. “We have been fighting for too long for immigration reform,” Gonzalez said. “It’s time we did. We need to. No more empty talk from politicians. We have to do it, or there are going to be consequences. It’s not a threat, it’s a promise. We need to. “