Congresswoman Gwen Moore: “Enough to the suffering of families being separated; enough to US citizen children being put in foster care. Ya basta! Now is the time for reform.”
As part of a national day of action focusing on amendments to the US Senate’s proposed immigration reform bill, thousands of people marched through the streets of Milwaukee today. Voces executive director Christine Neumann-Ortiz says that this year’s May Day march happened at a historic moment, when the opportunity to pass federal immigration reform has never been better.
“This is both a moment of celebration for our progress, and a time to reflect on the fact that we haven’t won the fight yet. Unity and action are more necessary than ever to achieve reform that keeps families together, protects all workers, ends the criminalization of immigrants, and doesn’t discriminate against other groups by denying diversity visas, or LGBT families the right to be together.”
Amongst the speakers were a married couple who work in Wisconsin’s dairy industry, Eduardo and Nancy Patiño. Eduardo is facing deportation on May 31st. Wisconsin’s signature dairy industry depends on a forty percent immigrant workforce.
“I’m a dairy worker, and this is a very important industry that boosts our state’s economy. I work very hard to put bread on the table for my family. And it is a great injustice that I am facing separation from them simply because a police officer stopped me because of the color of my skin. I am not a criminal.”
Congresswoman Gwen Moore rallied the crowd, saying “Your tireless efforts have gotten us this far, and this bill should have all of your fingerprints on it.”
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin echoed this message in a statement of support, as she was out of state: “For me, this issue is personal as I hear the stories of people both young and old whose families have been torn apart. Their hopes to live the American dream have been stopped short. I recently had a chance to meet with young leaders, known as Dreamers, and their stories were inspiring to me because they are American stories.”
Erica Sanchez, a DREAMer and member of Youth Empowered in Struggle (YES) said: “Today I am representing a million DREAMers who come from mixed immigration status families. While I am grateful that the Senate proposal offers DREAMers a five year path to citizenship, our parents, who were the original DREAMers, deserve the same.”
Terry Cooper, an African-American veteran employee of Palermo Villa, who was fired for supporting the organizing campaign at his workplace, told the crowd:
“My story is the same as millions of African American workers and millions of undocumented workers across America. And it will take all of our communities uniting to stop the corporate exploitation of our families. I know that what I did was the right thing, and it is for that reason that I am standing with my co-workers in trying to get Palermo to negotiate a fair settlement and respect the people who built their company.”
The march was sponsored by many local immigrant small businesses, and community groups including labor unions, faith, LGBT, and more.