(Wisconsin – Statewide) – Yesterday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and members of the Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) joined immigrant essential workers for a press conference in Jefferson, WI (video recording available here) on day 6 of a 9-day march from Milwaukee to Madison to demand the restoration of driver licenses for immigrants and citizenship for all.
This month, immigrant rights organizations from throughout the country are calling on the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrant essential workers and families in this country, the majority of which have been on the frontlines during this pandemic. Congress is currently negotiating an infrastructure bill that they intend to vote on later this year, and Voces de la Frontera and allies are demanding that President Biden act now to include citizenship for all in this bill. Voces and allies are also demanding that the Wisconsin State Legislature restore access to driver licenses for immigrant essential workers and families.
The 9-day march began on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20th at the Voces office in Milwaukee with a celebration honoring immigrant fathers and lifted up the voices of children of immigrant essential workers. On Monday, June 28, the final day of the march, immigrant essential workers and allies will gather at Olbrich Park in Madison at 10:00 a.m. to march to the Wisconsin State Capitol for a mass demonstration at 1:00 p.m. Thousands are anticipated to attend. A mobile vaccine clinic open to the public, will also be available that day at Olbrich.
Today, the marchers will be joined by members of the WFU again and will be marching over nine miles from London to Cottage Grove. They will end the day today with a community dinner at 5:00 p.m. at a dairy farm owned by a WFU member Tina Hinchley located at 2844 State Road 73, Cambridge, WI.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera, said, “immigration reform is supported by a majority of people in Wisconsin-Democrats, Republicans and independents. Our state is gerrymandered and unresponsive to the needs of Wisconsinites, which is why we need Democrats and Biden to act at the federal level with bold citizenship for 11 million in Biden’s Jobs bill. This is a historic moment and we appreciate Gov. Evers, the Wisconsin Farmers Union, labor, faith, community organizations and people of all walks of life who are standing with us to call on Biden and Democrats in Congress to say: “the time is now! “ We cannot have a recovery bill unless everyone is included. The 11 million undocumented essential workers and their families in this country have sacrificed so much to allow people to shelter in place during this pandemic. If the people unite to demand it, we can get it done this year. We ask everyone to join us on Monday, June 28 at the State Capitol at 1pm.”
Governor Evers said, “Whether it’s working on farms or in meat plants, the latino community has contributed to our success as a state for years and years and they deserve basic rights to make sure that they’re considered citizens of the state of Wisconsin.” He continued, “I’m hoping at some point in time the state legislature finds it in their heart to provide $15 an hour, provide driver licenses, to make sure that undocumented folks that want to further themselves by going to the University of Wisconsin can have in-state tuition. These asks are not extraordinary, they’re basic asks and I sure hope we can get there at some point.”
Nick Levendofsky, Government Relations Manager for the Wisconsin Farmers Union said, “The Wisconsin Farmers Union has long had grassroots policy passed by our members supporting immigrant farm workers because we know how vital they are to our economy here in Wisconsin. The majority of cows in the state are milked by immigrant farm workers. The majority of the produce that is picked in this state is picked by immigrant farm workers. We don’t eat in Wisconsin or in the world, frankly, or in the country without them. So we’re proud to stand with Voces de la Frontera, and we’re proud to march with them.”