Today, the Milwaukee-based immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera continued their campaign for citizenship for all and driver’s licenses for all.
Organizers and supporters gathered at Olbrich Park and marched to the state’s Capitol.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz is executive director of Voces de la Frontera, which organized today’s action. She’s honored to have marched with the participants in today’s demonstration.
“It’s been my honor to march with these brave immigrant essential workers or the children of essential workers who’ve been representing 11 million people in this country who’ve been at the front lines of the pandemic, who have families to feed, who have received up to date no cash benefits, no access to unemployment, no access to good healthcare, and we’re here to say enough is enough. Citizenship for all, right?” says Neumann-Ortiz.
Today’s march to the Capitol was the conclusion of a nine-day march from Milwaukee to Madison, also organized by Voces de la Frontera. Through the march, the group aims to demand citizenship for all, driver’s licenses for undocumented people and recognition from state and national legislature that immigrants deserve equality.
Today’s demonstrations concluded the nine-day action, a day before President Joe Biden is scheduled to travel to Wisconsin to discuss his infrastructure bill. It is the hope of the group that Biden and other elected government officials include citizenship for all in their discussion.
Ruben Sanon is a Deputy Mayor for the City of Madison. He calls for a pathway to citizenship.
“This is a human rights issue, and as such, the Mayor is advancing her priorities with housing, transportation and climate justice through the lenses you all bring forward. But we know that this power is purposefully scattered. So we call upon representatives at the national level to provide a pathway to citizenship in the critical legislation that is being worked on right now in the United States Capitol,” says Sanon.
“Let this country know that you are here to stay because without you, without the 11 million undocumented people that call this country home, this place would be unrecognizable, and the promise of this nation irrevocably undone. Divided, we are shouting to the void, but united, we are undeniable. Thank you, and as I’ve heard many times today, si se puede.”
Baltazar de Anda is executive director of the Latino Academy, a nonprofit that aims to provide employment, education and training to the local Latinx community. He is also director of the Orgullo Latinx LGBT coalition for queer Latinx people in Dane County. De Anda says that immigrants deserve respect.
“Immigration is a vital part of our American history and immigrants deserve respect and the opportunity to help build a stronger builder for themselves, our state and our country. What do we want? When do we want it? What do we want? When do we want it? Thank you,” says De Anda.
Eduardo Perea-Hernandez is a member of Voces de la Frontera. He says that today’s goal was to make a statement and send a message for pathways for citizenship to be included in Biden’s infrastructure bill.
“So, our goal today is to make a statement to, yes, the Governor — the Lieutenant Governor — but more specifically, though, the Republicans and the legislature because we know we have the support from Democrats at the state level. We need to have more support from our Republican colleagues, and we’re there to make that statement here at the state level for drivers licenses to be included, but also send a message to the national legislature to create a pathway to citizenship and put that in the next infrastructure bill,” says Perea-Hernandez.
Alondra Garcia has been involved in Voces de la Frontera since high school. She says that on today, the last day of the march, the commitment of group members has stood out.
“Seeing the commitment from the people that came out here. I got very emotional at the very end, obviously, because we reached our goal,” says Garcia.
Tina Hinchley is a dairy farmer from Cambridge as well as a member of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. She was at today’s march as an ally to Voces de la Frontera.
“There are many farms. Over 800 farms that have enormous numbers of cows, and we’re all, 95% of us are family owned and operated, but we all need a little help. In my area, I can hire high school helpers. In those other areas, they need so much help. They’re gonna rely on immigrant labor, and with that, these people need to have citizenship. They need to have a driver’s license. They need to be treated like human beings, and unfortunately, I don’t see that in the past that they have been given enough credit for all that they’re doing,” says Hinchley.
Though the nine-day march may have ended today, the fight for equality and citizenship has not. Members like Perea-Hernandez and Garcia say they will continue the campaign for citizenship for all.
“The struggle, this is just one of the many demonstrations, one of the many actions that are to be taken, because our end goal is to get citizenship for all, and it doesn’t end after today. So we’re gonna, you know, go to the meeting room, if you will. Discuss more ideas and strategies on other actions to take but still very much on the path to obtaining citizenship for all, still on the path to obtaining, to protecting workers rights, on the path to get driver’s licenses,” says Perea-Hernandez.
“After this, we’re going to keep fighting until it becomes a reality — citizenship for all. Either way, I’m gonna still fight for other people’s, other communities’ rights because we still have a long way to go. So this is not the end of it. This is just the beginning,” says Garcia.
Reporting for WORT News, I’m Hailey Griffin.
Image Courtesy: Hailey Griffin / WORT News