A Day without Latinos and Immigrants:
At least 30,000 people were at attendance. That cold Wisconsin winter was filled with energy, optimism, culture and brotherhood. Local Mexican restaurants were handing out food and drinks, I also had the opportunity to observe and record a wonderful group of young kids performing an Aztec traditional dance.
On February 18th, 2016 many organizations gathered in Madison our state capitol to protest anti-immigrant bills. Bill ab450 on the assembly had passed and was headed to the senate as bill sb369. The other bill sb533 had passed both assembly and the senate and into the governor’s desk for signature.
Because of the controversy of this legislation and the fear it created among the immigrant community, it created an opportunity to find out what exactly the Immigrant community has to offer this wonderful state of Wisconsin.
On that day the majority of Latino Immigrants had the spot light on them. The media coverage was vast and many employers and consumers really missed our brothers and sisters at their place of employment. Restaurants were short staffed, some factories closed out their production lines completely and dairy farms were operating on a skeleton staff just to name a few. It was certainly an eye opening experience to many Wisconsin employers.
The immigrant community is a vital part of our economy. The dairy industry is extremely dependent on the immigrant workforce. It is estimated that 80% of the workforce is immigrant labor and a 40.3 Billion dollars per year industry.
By creating legislation that makes Wisconsin a hostile environment to our immigrant community we are at jeopardy of losing this wonderful workforce we have come to take for granted. Prime examples of legislation that created the immigrant community to flee happened in Arizona, Georgia and Alabama. These states have suffered tremendous economic hardships.
On March 15th 2016 the senate had the last session for the year. The big test for the immigrant community of Wisconsin was about to take place. Would bill ab450/sb369 be introduced for a vote? Will it pass? Will all the hard work and the incredible display of solidarity be in vain? The answer to all is NO. The bill was not introduced and therefore it died in the senate. This was a huge victory to the immigrant community. Many will be able to have a good night sleep, cancel the possibility of moving to more “friendly” state and continue with life’s goals and dreams.
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