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15,000 rally for immigrant rights at Wisconsin State Capitol

By Nyree Khamo |
February 19, 2016
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Immigrant rights supporters fill Wisconsin State Capitol. (FightBack!News/Staff)

Madison, WI - More than 15,000 Mexicanos, Chicanos and Latinos, including students, workers, businesses owners and professionals joined a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, occupying the rotunda. The huge masses of protesters came out in support of “El dia sin Latinos” or “A day without Latinos” to protest two anti-immigrant bills, AB 450 and SB 533. Some schools and businesses were half empty or closed as students walked out, and farms, factories and work places across Wisconsin were noticeably short-handed.

Both of the repressive Wisconsin bills, trumpeted by Governor Scott Walker, criminalize undocumented people, similar to the repressive SB 1070 law in Arizona. The first Wisconsin bill, AB 450, requires police and public employees to investigate the immigration status of people and then detain for deportation those who are not carrying papers. The second bill, SB 533 aims to block the issuing of local identification cards to undocumented immigrants who otherwise would not have an ID.

Jorge Maya of Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) said, “The protest was amazing to see, so many thousands of people out to defend their own safety and security in Wisconsin. The people are not harming or hurting anybody, but these new laws show the politicians don’t really care at all about the people.”

Student groups that marched were YES-Marquette University, YES-University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA). Other University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University and high school students joined in as well.

El Rey supermarket shut down for the day, adding up to 500 workers to the march. The supermarket chain’s owner, Ernesto Vilarreal, encouraged his workers to attend the march and demand equality and justice for all.