(WISCONSIN) – Today, approximately 4,000 immigrant essential workers, small business owners, students and allies participated in the first of a two-day “Days Without Latinxs and Immigrants” general strike in Wisconsin as part of a national day of action for the immigrant rights movement. Including Milwaukee, actions took place in 39 cities in 17 states as part of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and We Are Home national networks.

This media toolkit is available to press and includes videos, photos, speeches and more. Livestream video of the entire day is available on Voces de la Frontera’s Facebook page here.

Immigrant essential workers, families and allies marched from Voces de la Frontera’s new office in the heart of Milwaukee’s predominantly Latinx southside to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson’s office downtown. See the media advisory for today’s events for more information.

At a press conference in front of Senator Ron Johnson’s office today in Milwaukee, Israel Peña, an immigrant essential worker from Green Bay, WI, said, “I’ve lived in this country as an immigrant worker since February 2008. I’ve worked in the wineries in California, and the fields harvesting nuts, almonds, cherries and peaches. I’ve washed cars at a carwash. I’ve worked in construction and in restaurants, and I’m currently working at a manufacturing business here in Wisconsin. In every one of these jobs I’ve put in my best effort and dedication, with the goal of being able to care for my family and contribute to the economy of this great country.  With all of our hearts, we ask the President and our state legislators to pass immigration reform so that our families can stop living in fear and be able to live in harmony and happiness with our families. We deserve nothing less after contributing to the economy of this country for so many years, including during the pandemic where we, the essential workers, never stopped working and risked our lives.” Full speech available here.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera, said, “Today, Milwaukee stands proud as one of 39 cities across this nation to call on President Biden to use his executive power to expand protections for immigrant workers and their families, given the failure of Congress to pass immigration reform last year. President Biden described our national efforts to fight Covid-19 and save lives as a war, and we are here to remind him and members of Congress that immigrant workers have been heroes on the frontlines, sacrificing for our wellbeing, and Biden must honor their sacrifices and contributions.” Full speech available here.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said, “We see ourselves as a nation of immigrants, people from all over the world call the city of Milwaukee home, that’s always been one of our greatest strengths. It’s about all of you. It’s about men, women, young people – families – who want nothing more than a chance, we all want the American dream to succeed, prosper and have a good life. That is why I support comprehensive immigration reform and executive orders to protect all immigrants…. We need to make sure people know that immigrants boost local economies, that they work hard and pay their fair share, that they do contribute to our economic growth in all of our communities. The economic benefits and contributions that immigrants bring benefits everyone in this city and country.” Full speech available here.

Karina Tweedell, Ukrainian immigrant whose family had to relocate to Milwaukee after the war in 2014, said, “In 2014, my family rushed to relocate to the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, as Russian tanks started rolling down the street with our house on it. Today they are safely here. My shock of seeing Ukrainians as refugees reminds me of how anyone can easily end up in the position of truly needing help. One shouldn’t have a certain passport to have access to basic human rights, a certain look for their life to matter. It’s easy to dismiss another human’s pain when you think they aren’t like you: those people in other countries, those children not in our neighborhoods, those workers speaking a different language. I’m here to say it loudly, people seeking asylum, regardless of where they came from, deserve our protection. Repeal Title 42!” Full speech available here.

Tomorrow, Monday, May 2, the second day of the strike, Voces de la Frontera Action members will lobby state elected officials in Madison at the state Capitol, and condemn Republicans for repeatedly blocking the restoration of driver licenses and in-state tuition equity for immigrants. A press conference on these state-level issues will take place in the Capitol rotunda at noon CT, with speakers including Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a representative of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, an immigrant essential worker, a student organizing a school walkout from Madison East High School, and an immigrant small business owner. The press conference will speak to the urgent need to restore driver licenses, state IDs, and in-state tuition for immigrants in Wisconsin, and ending the racist 287g program that legalizes racial profiling and undermines public safety.

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