MADISON, Wis (WBAY) – Madison Police estimate 14,000 protesters gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol for “A Day Without Latinos and Immigrants”
Wisconsin’s Latino community left their jobs, businesses and schools for the day to fight two bills in the Wisconsin Legislature they say discriminate against immigrants.
One bill would ban local governments from issuing local photo ID cards which immigrants could use to get public assistance benefits, vote, get a job or anything else that requires a state-issued ID. That bill passed both houses and is awaiting Gov. Scott Walker’s signature or veto.
The other, sparking even more anger among the crowd, would let police investigate a person’s immigration status if they’re charged with certain crimes, and the person could be held for up to two days without bail while their status is investigated. Advocates for migrant workers say the bills would lead to racial profiling against immigrants.Legislators say the bill is misunderstood and only directed at criminals.
That bill passed the Assembly so far.
“Nothing in this bill turns any local law enforcement into proactively looking for anyone’s immigration status,” Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, a Republican representing New Berlin, said.
“People are afraid. They are afraid to have encounters with the police. They don’t feel safe. They can be witnesses of crime and not call the police,” Norys Pina, a protester from Appleton, said.
At times the crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder, waving signs in the air with a clear message the Latino community is united in their fight against these bills becoming law.
Protesters left the Capitol peacefully around 1:30 in the afternoon. Capitol Police said there are no incidents or arrests.
The protest was organized by the Wisconsin Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, We Are All Milwaukee Coalition, and Voces de la Frontera.