WASHINGTON – Who: Thousands of immigrant families, students, religious leaders, supporters, Wisconsin Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, We Are All Milwaukee Coalition, Voces de la Frontera
What: Wisconsin Day without Latinos and Immigrants 2016: Massive mobilization on the Capitol in Madison, student walk-outs, business closings, families and workers’ march to defeat AB450/SB369 and SB533/AB723
When: Thursday, February 18th. Mobilization on the Capitol begins at 10am
Where: Assemble at State Capitol in Madison, State Street entrance
Why: Throughout January and February, more than 1000 Latino Wisconsinites and supporters have come to the Capitol to oppose anti-immigrant legislation. Various committees of the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly have now passed SB 533 and AB450/SB369, two bills that severely restrict local control and aim to make Wisconsin more hostile to immigrants. On Tuesday, February 16th, the full Assembly will vote on both bills, and the Senate is expected to vote shortly after.
In an attempt to stop the bills, Wisconsin immigrant communities are calling for THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18TH, TO BE A DAY WITHOUT LATINOS AND IMMIGRANTS IN WISCONSIN. Dozens of businesses have committed to close and workers are organizing in cities and towns throughout Wisconsin to go to the Capitol on the 18th instead of work. Parents are taking their kids out of school and students statewide are organizing walkouts.
“I am part of a group organizing so all the students walk out from the high schools and middle schools in Madison on the 18th,” said Yaritza Brito, 17, a student at Memorial High School in Madison. “If we all fight together, hand in hand, this law will not defeat us. We have to keep walking with our heads high. The Latino community has so much pride, and we cannot let these people who hate us see us crying and on our knees, begging them not to do this. We need to make a stand.”
Diverse businesses will close on the 18th ranging from cheese factories, tattoo shops, coffee shops, daycare centers, nail salons, restaurants, tax preparation centers, law firms, and others. Numerous workers in construction, hotels, manufacturing, and agriculture will not work and instead march.
“We are closing our business on the 18th so all of our employees can march because our business depends on the Latino community,” said Miguel Garza, owner of MG Multiservicios, a tax preparation service that has been open for 16 years in Milwaukee and Madison. “We want to see all of our community doing well and living without fear. Our economy depends on immigrant workers and their families who are targeted by these laws. Right now at MG we are working hard to help people prepare their taxes. Many of our clients have social security numbers, and other do not, but they comply with government requirements to report their tax contributions through an Individual Tax Identification Number. So contrary to what some people think, immigrants do contribute, and they want to be ready when immigration reform is passed.”
“We are inviting everyone to mobilize on the Capitol in Madison on Thursday, February 18th, at 10am,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera. “We must oppose two anti-immigrant laws rapidly moving through the state legislature that will become laws if we don’t unite as a community to stop them. One bill allows any public employee to inquire about immigration status, and if someone is charged with a crime, which includes something as simple as driving without a license or not paying traffic citations, that person could be arrested and turned over for deportation. We have seen cases, even before these bills have passed, where people with no criminal record have ended up in detention and deportation. The other law would block counties from issuing local identification cards statewide.
“In 2006 we defeated the Sensenbrenner bill by mobilizing a massive Day without Latinos. It is urgent that we do the same on February 18th. One day without work, one day without school, one day without shopping to show the economic power of Latinos and immigrants in this state. We invite all Latinos, immigrants, and people of all races to come together to defeat these discriminatory laws. It is no coincidence that these types of laws are also being introduced in North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona. These bills are being driven by politicians aligned with the American Legislative Exchange Council in an attempt to preempt local control and continue the shameful legacy of criminalization of immigrant workers and their families.”
Interview opportunities: Workers, students, and business owners involved in the organizing are available for interviews from now until February 18th
For more information, visit our website at: www.vdlf.org
National news clip from Univision