Immigrants from all nations and supporters for immigration reform marched to protest Governor Walker’s anti-immigrant sentiment to continue to block reinstatement of instate tuition and driver licenses for undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
May 1, 2015
Milwaukee, WI – On Friday, thousands of immigrants, children and supporters marched from Voces de la Frontera (VDLF) office in the Southside through the Immigrant Citizenship Pathway Bridge (known as the Sixth Street Viaduct to downtown) ending at the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Since 2006, the Immigrant Citizenship Pathway Bridge for the last nine years has been the route and the epicenter of the immigrant rights movement for immigration reform that spread throughout the nation and have created a united front for political change and economic empowerment, which the GOP or Republican state controlled legislature is now trying to tap into for the 2016 Presidential election.
Governor Scott Walker (R) who is considered to be one of many GOP potential canidates for the Republican nomination for President in 2016 has set back any success for the GOP to attract the state and national Hispanic vote. Walker has publicly confirmed that he doesn’t believe in amnesty, expanding Obama’s DACA to include the parents of students or a pathway for citizenship for the 13M of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and would enforce mass deportations, if elected. He has eliminated instate tuition for undocumented immigrants including registered DREAMers, despite undocumented immigrants paying millions of dollars in taxes for the last nine years in Wisconsin. Governor Walker has been labeled anti-immigrant and a racist, according to people marching on Friday.
Last year, Hispanics in the state of Wisconsin became a majority surpassing the Afro-American population. By mid Summer, the Mexican government will open a Consulate General of Mexico in Milwaukee, indicating that Wisconsin has a growing Mexican national population.
VDLF released the following statement, “Gov. Walker to withdraw Wisconsin from the 26-state lawsuit delaying the implementation of executive immigration relief, for living wages and the right to organize in the workplace, for increased funding for public education, and for an end to police violence against African-American communities…Recently, Gov. Walker has said that he opposes immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and even supports restrictions on legal immigration.”
“At a time when wealth and power is concentrated in few hands as never before, in the fourth poorest city in the nation and one of the most segregated, working families are on the front fighting for strong public schools, affordable higher education, good jobs, and strong civil rights protections,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera.
“Voces is committed to defending and supporting immigrants applying for relief under executive action, continuing our fight for racial and economic justice. We have seen in Milwaukee and Baltimore and other cities African Americans and their allies rising up against racist police violence, and we are proud to stand with their struggle. We are proud to stand with Maria Hamilton and Elvira Arellano, two mothers fighting for justice for all families,” Neumann-Ortiz stated.
“I want say thank you to the US citizens who are here with us today fighting deportations,” said Arellano, an internationally-renowned immigrant rights activist who resisted her 2006 deportation order by taking sanctuary in a Chicago church.
“It’s so beautiful to see people of so many nationalities here together,” said Maria Hamilton at a rally before the march. She is the mother of Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed African-American man shot dead by Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney one year ago. Marchers also expressed solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the Hamilton family, and the people of Baltimore.
May Day Immigration Reform March: Video 1 https://youtu.be/BXeFZiVHPH8
Video 2 https://youtu.be/APhXuXpCUqw
In 2014, Hispanics became the largest minority population in Wisconsin surpassing Afro-Americans, according to the U.S. Census report.
In 2006 city economic study reported that the Southside households in the predominately Latino community located inside Postal Zip Code 53204 in Milwaukee spent more than $91 million annually in retail goods, according to the Department of City Development statistics. In one day, they spent approximately $249,315.06. The biggest tax-generating base for the city comes solely from the Southside compared to other districts.
In Milwaukee, over 850 Hispanic owned businesses generate more than $225 million in annual sales. It is abundantly clear that the immigration of Hispanics and undocumented immigrants to Southeastern Wisconsin is tied to a large degree to the available resources that Hispanics have in Chávez Drive, the 12 and 13 Aldermanic Districts.
In Wisconsin, over 3,000 Hispanic owned businesses generate more than $800 million in annual sales, creation of jobs and available employment resulting in population growth as well as business growth. In 2013, Governor Scott Walker’s (R-WI) office reported that Hispanic-owned businesses in Wisconsin are growing at a rate of 7.6 percent, accounting for $2.4 billion in sales and employing 11,000 people.
The Hispanic population increased by more than 4%, greater than the national Hispanic growth rate, and more than 271,000 Hispanics lived in Wisconsin in 2007. The population of Hispanics had grown by 40% since 2000. The U.S. Census reported that 355,468 Hispanics resided in the state or 6.2 percent of the total population in 2012.
In Milwaukee County alone, about 13.9 of the County population was Hispanic.