(STATEWIDE – WI) – On Monday afternoon, the chairs of local Democratic Party chapters and local elected officials joined immigrants and allies for press conferences in front of Democratic Party offices in six cities across Wisconsin. They gathered in anticipation of a historic vote in the U.S. Senate on the Build Back Better bill this week that includes long overdue immigration reforms. They urged Democrats in Congress, the Senate, Vice President Harris and President Biden to “Bring Immigration Reform Home for the Holidays!”
The six simultaneous rallies and press conferences took place outside of Democratic Party offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Racine, Waukesha and Appleton. The Facebook Live of events in Milwaukee, Appleton, and Madison are available to view. A press toolkit with photos and additional video of the events is also available.
In addition to counting on a vote from Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week, immigrant essential workers and advocates are waiting for the Senate Parliamentarian to issue her advisory opinion on the proposed immigration provisions in the Build Back Better (BBB) bill that the House passed in November. These provisions provide work permits for an estimated 7.1 million immigrants for up to ten years and protect them from the threat of family separation and deportation, but they do not create a new pathway to citizenship. The parliamentarian recently issued advisory opinions rejecting two previous immigration proposals that would have created a new path to citizenship for millions of immigrant essential workers and families. Multiple legal and immigrant rights advocates agree that the advice of the Senate Parliamentarian is not binding, and that no precedent would prevent Democrats from disregarding her advisory opinion and moving forward with historic immigration reforms this year.
Voces de la Frontera will convene a community meeting and hold a press conference as soon as the Senate Parliamentarian’s advice on immigration provisions in BBB become public.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin issued a statement shortly before the press conferences yesterday, stating in part that, “Whatever [the parliamentarian’s] advice on this latest proposal, I believe the Senate must seize this opportunity to advance immigration reform in the Build Back Better Act. I will continue to work with my colleagues to accomplish as much as possible in this historic moment.”
Christine Sinicki, Chair of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County and State Representative, said, “I’m standing here today asking Senator Baldwin and all of our Democrats in Congress to do what they think is right. We do believe that now is the time that they have the power to get this done. We’re tired of waiting and it’s time to give immigrants a happy holiday.”
Paul Vang, Civic Engagement Director from the Hmong American Women’s Association, said, “From the immigrant essential workers who put their health on the line throughout the pandemic, to the undocumented and DACA recipients who live in fear, as well as the newly arrived refugees who are starting their lives here in America after fleeing violence and persecution, providing an accessible and compassionate pathway to citizenship will change lives and set up our communities to thrive for generations to come. It is for these reasons that passing immigration reform is not only an economic priority, it is a moral priority, and we cannot kick it down the road any longer. And that is why today, we are calling on our Democratic representatives and the President to fulfill their campaign promises and pass immigration reform and change the lives of tens of millions who call America home.”
Renee Gasch, Chair of the Democratic Party of Brown County, said, “We want everyone to know that immigrants are welcome here in our community, our county and our party. Immigration reform belongs in the Build Back Better bill and we stand in solidarity with every organizer and Democrat who’s going to make this happen this year, so thank you for your work and let’s get it done!”
Eduardo Perea, immigrant essential worker in Milwaukee, said, “I’ve been here for over 30 years working as undocumented. Immigrant essential workers like me are here working during the pandemic with very little benefits keeping the economy afloat and it’s time that I am treated with dignity and respect just as any other person who was born or lives in this country. Democrats, you have the power. You made promises, we supported you and now it’s time to act.”
This week, members of Voces de la Frontera, in partnership with their national network, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), are traveling to Washington D.C. for the second week in a row to continue to pressure Democrats to deliver on immigration reform by the holidays. Tuesday, December 14, Voces members will participate in a faith day of action on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, they will join an immigrant solidarity action that highlights the especially cruel and dehumanizing treatment of Black immigrants by immigration enforcement agents. Go to Voces de la Frontera’s Facebook page to follow along with these events.
Last week, a delegation of immigrant essential workers, their families and allies from Voces de la Frontera and FIRM participated in a march and civil disobedience action in front of the U.S. Capitol on December 7, and dozens were arrested. Then, the delegation from Wisconsin met with Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin on Wednesday, December 8. Photos of these actions by Joe Brusky/MTEA can be found here, and video and more can be found on Voces de la Fronteras Facebook page.