High school kids gathered outside Madison East as the school day began on Thursday, March 18, ready to make the two-mile trek to the Capitol for the giant Day Without Latinos rally—the largest protest in downtown Madison since the historic protests of Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting Act 10.

Students wearing butterfly wings carried “migration is beautiful” signs. Shy Spanish-speaking parents declined to comment, but waved American flags as they accompanied teens and younger siblings on the march downtown.

“Stop deporting our parents,” one homemade protest sign declared.

“Wisconsin Is Not Arizona,” said another, referring to the heavy-handed deportation laws passed by Republican legislators in the border state.

It was a moving scene: an explicit show of support for immigrants, against the bullying and intolerance exemplified by two bills in the Wisconsin state legislature, Assembly Bill 450, which prohibits local governments from restricting immigration status inquiries by police and other public employees, and Senate Bill 533, which forbids municipalities from issuing a variety of photo ID cards and disallows ID cards issued by cities and villages from being used to meet the state’s new voter ID requirement.

As the students marched, cars drove by blowing their horns, prompting cheers from the marchers. One woman leaned out her window and gave the group the finger, prompting shocked titters from the kids.

“When the anti-immigrant bills were proposed, we became involved and started attending the hearings,” said Guadalupe Salmeron, senior class president at East, who helped plan the walkout. Salmeron moved to Madison from Mexico with her parents thirteen years ago. She and her friends were dismayed by the new legislation in Wisconsin, she said, as well as the anti-immigrant tone of the Republican presidential primary debates.

By mid-day, 14,000 people had converged on the Capitol, according to Madison police.

“Buenos dias,” said a rally monitor in a bright orange vest, beaming when an Anglo passerby responded in Spanish.

Speeches in Spanish and Spanish-language music reinforced the feeling of a cultural show of support.

Restaurants and other businesses closed for the day to honor the contribution of Latino workers, without whom, protest organizers pointed out, economic activity in the state would cease.

“We are people who work hard and contribute to the Wisconsin economy,” said Monica Covarrubias, a tax preparer who immigrated from Mexico to Madison eleven years ago. Covarrubias was holding a sign with the slogan that doubled as a Twitter hashtag for the rally: “Wisconsin Is Not Arizona.”

“We love Wisconsin. We came here to work and find something better for our families, and we think these anti-immigrant laws are a little racist,” Covarrubias added.

As a tax preparer, she said, she sees that everyone helps support the government and society. “We have the same obligations, so we should have the same rights,” she said. “Everyone contributes something. We should accept cultural diversity.”

Ruth Conniff is editor-in-chief of The Progressive.

 

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Comments

Come Legally OR NOT At all
Proud to be a "Progressive" supporter! Thank you again for the conscience of your work!
I am in full support of our Latino friends and neighbors and co-workers in Wisconsin. I hate that our extremely regressive governor and legislature are pursuing such hateful racist legislation as yet another assault on Wisconsin's revered Progressive heritage!! One of the Latino students I work with asked me on Wednesday (I am a public school educator) if I was going to the rally on Thursday. When I told him that my heart and thoughts would be with the protestors at the rally but that I would be at school helping out so that many of our other educators could go to the rally, this wise beyond his years 9 year old said "I thank-you for that". Warmed my heart.
Everyone in the Americas is descended from immigrants, most of whom arrived without permission or papers. Certainly my ancestors did. People have always migrated, either from fear or from economic deprivation. If we don't want migrants, we could stop encouraging terrorist governments and stop destroying the economies of other countries.
What's racist about expecting people to follow the law? What's racist about expecting people to ask to immigrate here? My wife is an immigrant as are at least half of my friends. They applied to immigrate and followed the rules. I don't think it's unreasonable or racist to expect that.

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More

Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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