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Immigrants And Allies Rally In Six Cities Across Wisconsin Against Anti-Immigrant Legislation

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Nearly a month after turning out 20,000 people in an action at the state capitol last month, immigrant community members and allies in Wisconsin appear to be on the cusp of a major victory in their state.

According to Wisconsin group Voces de la Frontera, the State Senate is set to close their legislative session without taking up AB450, a xenophobic anti-“sanctuary city” bill. Barring any last minute changes before the session closes tonight, the bill appears to be defeated.

The victory will come after advocates held simultaneous rallies in six cities across the state urging Governor Scott Walker to ensure these anti-immigrant bills not become law, and included organizers from Voces de la Frontera, the Service Employees International Union, the Racine Education Assocation, Casa Esther, League of United Latin American Citizens, and Unidos por un Futuro Mejor Fox Valley.

From Voces de la Frontera:

The actions come the day after a vigil was held to remember Jesús Manso Pérez, Phia Vue, and Mai Vue-Xiong, three people murdered by a white man in what appears to have been a xenophobic hate crime. Before killing the three, Dan Popp, a white neighbor, asked Manso Pérez where he was from, and after Manso Pérez responded that he was from Puerto Rico, Popp responded “Oh, that’s why you don’t speak English,” before saying, “you got to go,” and shooting him in front of his son.

“We don’t need racists laws in Wisconsin that will encourage more racial profiling and discrimination — like the case that took place in Milwaukee where a man killed his neighbor for speaking Spanish,” said Yaritza Brito, a high school senior and student leader in Madison. “We need unity across the state and country among the youth. We are this country and this country is ours. Scott Walker don’t sign these bills. Don’t take our initial dreamers away from us, our parents. And don’t make us stop dreaming.”

“For me, today is about showing our kids that they have the power to change things and about urging those who can to vote,” said Nancy Garcia, 38, a homecare worker from Greenville, WI, who joined the action in Appleton.

“Many unjust things are happening now, with these laws being pushed, with Trump, but when we can be part of the solution if we organize and vote. I would ask Scott Walker, what would you do for your family and your children? I would tell the Republicans, you reap what you sow. It is frightening how much support hate and racism are getting right now, but Latinos will not always be young. We are a minority but we are many, and if you have a lot of voices sticking up for the same thing, the Republicans should be careful with that. There are a lot of people like me, making sure our 18-year-olds register to vote.

“We stand not only with Latinos, not only with immigrants, but with all Wisconsin in opposition to these 2 anti-immigrant bills SB533 and AB450,” said State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee). “It is our understanding the Senate will not take up AB450, the anti-sanctuary city bill, but we will be watching Tuesday to ensure they do not take up that bill. This is a victory. SB533, the anti-local government, anti-immigrant, anti-local ID bill sits on Governor Walker’s desk. Republicans in the Assembly and the Senate unfortunately passed this bill in both houses. I ask Wisconsinites to call Governor Walker and ask him to veto this bill. Do not sign this bill into law.”

Last month, 20,000 Latinos from across the state walked out of their jobs and schools to protest the anti-immigrant legislation before the state legislature. The bills in question targeted so called “sanctuary cities” and restricted local governments from issuing local photo IDs for people who were unable to obtain state identification. Businesses across Wisconsin closed their doors for the day or paid employees who missed work to attend.