(MILWAUKEE, WI) – Yesterday, in just one week of organizing, an estimated 4,000 immigrant and Latinx essential workers, more than 130 small businesses and over 200 students from across Wisconsin participated in a Day Without Latinxs and Immigrants statewide general strike and march in Milwaukee. It was a day of no work, no school, no shopping to demonstrate to President Biden, Vice President Harris and Democrats in Congress the importance of immigrants to our economy – especially during this pandemic – as workers, small business owners and consumers.
This statewide general strike is the first in a wave of escalated actions across the country leading up to the October 31st deadline for Democrats to vote on the Build Back Better reconciliation budget bill. Immigrant rights organizations are demanding that Democrats overrule the Senate Parliamentarian and deliver on their promise of immigration reform with a path to citizenship for millions this year.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera, said: “We refuse to allow history to repeat itself and have another presidential administration’s promise to immigrant families go unfulfilled. There is precedent and a legal basis for Vice President Harris to use her leadership in the Senate to take independent action from the parliamentarian to keep immigration reform in the budget and for Democrats to pass it.
Democrats are returning to Wisconsin this week to be in the district and hear from their constituents. We are here to tell them that they cannot return from DC empty handed. They cannot take our vote or our economic contributions or our lives for granted.
This is just the beginning. We must sustain pressure on Wisconsin Democrats and Democratic Party leadership to make sure they are hearing from us and seeing us in other public actions and, if need be, build for a national Day without Latinxs and Immigrants strike before a final vote in Congress.
El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated.”
Rafaela Rojas, an immigrant essential worker in construction and cleaning who refused to go to work on Monday, said, “I’m striking today because we need Biden and the Democrats to listen to us and fulfill their promise to pass citizenship this year. As an essential worker who risked my health and safety throughout the pandemic and as a taxpayer, we deserve it.”
Ramiro Castillo, immigrant small business owner of a landscaping company in Waukesha County who closed his business on Monday said, “As an immigrant small business owner, in an industry that depends on immigrants, I closed my business on a Day Without Latinxs and Immigrants to show that we are the workforce that sustains the economy. Politicians have been promising to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship for decades, and it’s time that we show them our economic power. It’s time that they deliver reform for the undocumented, DACA recipients and TPS holders. We’re here to say that we’ve had enough of their promises, it’s time for action.”
Arianna Macias, 16 year-old high school student from Racine who walked out of school on Monday, said in a speech to march participants: “I’m not at school today because I need to fight for my family. I’m the daughter of two immigrant essential workers, and my mother is an undocumented single mother. I grew up seeing the struggle. Due to low wages, my mom had to work so many hours that I had to be with a babysitter most of the time. Once, when I fractured my foot in 5th grade, my mom drove me to the pharmacy to get medicine and she was pulled over for driving without a license. We were really scared. Why is it illegal for my mom to drive somewhere to get me medicine? My mom’s been in this country longer than I’ve been alive and she can’t even get a driver license because she’s undocumented. How is this fair? We need citizenship for all now!”