Latino Workers’ Group Plans Strike to Pressure Democrats to Pass Immigration Reform



By Jonathon Sadowski

October 5, 2021

President Joe Biden and fellow Democrats campaigned in 2020 in part on the promise to deliver a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented essential workers.

Voces de la Frontera, a Milwaukee-based Latino and worker advocacy group, plans to hold a statewide “Day Without Latinxs and Immigrants” strike next Monday in an effort to pressure congressional Democrats to follow through on their promise for immigration reform by including it in the “human infrastructure” bill they are currently debating.

“Our priority right now is to … initiate this wave of economic actions across the state so that Democrats can hear us loud and clear that we are fully expecting them to deliver on their promise,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, in a Tuesday press conference.

President Joe Biden and fellow Democrats campaigned in 2020 in part on the promise to deliver a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented essential workers and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but they have not yet passed such reforms. 

RELATED: ‘It’s About Time’: Wisconsin Advocates Say Immigration Reform Needs to Happen Now

The Senate parliamentarian, who interprets Senate rules, told Democrats they can’t include immigration in the sweeping $3.5 trillion social service and climate change bill proposed by Biden; Senate Republicans would almost certainly block a standalone immigration bill using the filibuster

Pro-immigration reform activists and some legal scholars have called on lawmakers to ignore that ruling, saying the lawmakers ultimately have the final say.

“They certainly have the moral obligation to [ignore the parliamentarian ruling],” Neumann-Ortiz said. “President Biden and Vice President Harris promised a path to immigration reform would be done this year, and that is in danger of being lost.”

John Rosenow, a Buffalo County dairy farmer who spoke at the press conference, said he will operate his farm on a skeleton crew to accommodate his immigrant workers who participate in the strike. 

“We are the party for immigrants,” Rosenow said. “Let’s show immigrants why we are that party.”

More than 75,000 undocumented immigrants live in Wisconsin, and advocates have been outspoken in support of granting them a path to citizenship since Biden took office. In support of immigration reform, Voces de la Frontera this year has held days of action in cities throughout the state, lobbied in Washington, DC, and marched from Milwaukee to Madison.

“They have to do something. They have to do the right thing. They have to not [give] excuses anymore,” said Blanca Cano, an immigrant small-business owner in Waukesha who spoke through a translator at the press conference. She said she will close shop for the day to participate in the strike.

Voces’ upcoming strike is part of a nationwide series of actions. Immigrant advocates in Washington State will also participate on Monday, and similar strikes are scheduled for Illinois and Florida later in the week, according to Neumann-Ortiz.

Neumann-Ortiz said advocates won’t stop with one day of striking if there is still no movement on immigration reform by Oct. 31, the deadline set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to pass Biden’s infrastructure plans.

“Our community is ready to escalate farther down the road,” Neumann-Ortiz said.




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