Letter from Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Labor Day 2022

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera Action: 

Lea en Español aquí. Watch on Youtube here.

President Biden is in Milwaukee on Labor Day ahead of the midterm elections because he knows what we’ve been saying all along – the road to working-class and immigrant justice runs through Wisconsin.

As an organization that represents immigrant essential workers and their families, our members are committed to mobilizing the Latinx and youth vote to defeat the Trump backed candidates-Michels and Johnson- at the ballot box on November 8th. These white supremacist candidates, applaud the violent attempted coup at our nation’s capital and are a threat to our families, community, state and country.

Like Trump, Michels and Johnson are right wing populists, pretending to care about common people, while using xenophobia and racism, to deceive and divide working people while enriching themselves.

VDLFA has been calling for the resignation of Senator Johnson, since he defended the failed attempted coup at the nation’s capital by armed and violent white supremacists. He has also been a barrier to immigration reform, in  2014 and last year when he blocked immigration reform from passing in the US Senate. Instead of  honoring the sacrifices made by immigrant families at the front lines of the pandemic, Johnson has been enriching himself at the expense of working class people.  Johnson was the deciding vote in support of Trump’s massive multi billion dollar corporate tax break, of which he and his billionaire donors personally benefited from.  Johnson  is now supporting a Republican plan to pass a major increase of taxes on low income and middle class people and cutting social security and medicare. This is the same man that wants to force women to have unwanted pregnancies yet does not believe it is the government’s job to help hungry children be fed  lunch at school.

VDLFA members will also defeat the hypocrite Tim Michels, a Trump backed corporate candidate for governor who barely lives in our state. Shamelessly, Michels is running on an anti-immigrant platform, despite making his money off the back of undocumented immigrant workers who represent a critical labor force in the construction industry. The center for American progress estimates, conservatively, that there are 6,500 undocumented immigrant essential workers in the construction industry in Wisconsin, contributing $54.2 million in federal taxes, $38.1 million in state and local taxes, and $19.6 million to  social security  and medicare though they are ineligible to receive these benefits because of their immigration status.  The very things we fight for: driver licenses, tuition equity and immigration reform are the things Michels has chosen to attack as his political platform.

The choices are clear. VDLFA is committed to helping re-elect Governor Evers. Evers has supported immigrant families by using his power to include driver licenses and instate tuition equity for immigrants in both state budgets. Yet each time, republicans have voted to remove them from the budget and have been blocking bills in the legislature by maintaining  majority control through corrupt gerrymandering.

if Michels is elected governor, we will face relentless attacks as people of color, immigrants and workers, including efforts to pass a statewide 287g program, like walker tried to do in 2016 that we defeated through a mass general strike called a day without Latinxs and immigrants and alliances with farmers.

At the federal level, Mandela Barnes supports immigration reform.last year we were just one vote short in the us senate for passage of a historic immigration reform bill: if Barnes had been in the Senate, this bill could have prevailed. he has been a staunch champion for immigrant essential workers and their families, campaigning in support of driver licenses and tuition equity and both he and Evers joined us  last summer in a historic march from Milwaukee to the state capitol calling for passage of immigration reform at the federal level.

As an organization that built the largest statewide network of Latinx and multiracial youth voters in Wisconsin, we were critical to delivering a winning margin of victory that defeated Scott Walker in 2018 and Trump in 2020.

Every year, the Latinx vote and youth vote grows in size. Every year, more U.S. citizen children of immigrants become eligible voters, every year there are more newly naturalized US citizens. These newly engaged Latinx voters can turn the tide against these forces of hatred and violence.  Voces de la Frontera Action members are committed to grow that political power through our family and social networks and canvassing in our neighborhoods to  ensure that Wisconsin is once again a pro-immigrant progressive state.

Movement pressure is necessary not just for elections but to hold those in power accountable. corporations invest in both major political parties to have influence regardless of who wins in an election. capitalism, the economic system we live in, relies on racism and xenophobia to scapegoat and divide working people from one another. This has bred the growth of a modern day fascist movement, the MAGA movement. It is up to us  to defeat this threat while calling out candidates and elected officials on the policies working people  need.  We also know we cannot limit our struggle to the electoral arena, which is why the power of the general strike through a day without Latinxs and immigrants has been an effective tool of defense  at the state level in 2016 and defeating 287g in Milwaukee county in 2017.

As our organizing made defeating Donald Trump in 2020 possible,  we now call on president Biden to use his executive power to do more to protect immigrant essential workers and their families. This is particularly crucial in light of the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to remove Biden’s immigration enforcement priorities. immigration enforcement priorities meant that only crimes of a serious nature were a deportable offense. Now 11 million workers and their families are a target for deportation, and a minor offense like driving without a license can result in the deportation of a loved one.

We call on President Biden to end the federal policies that undermine public safety and contribute to the criminalization of immigrant communities. this means terminating the racist 287g program that deputizes local law enforcement to act as ice agents and legalizes racial profiling.

Further, we call on President Biden to end federal contracts with private for profit detention centers and federal grants like the state criminal alien assistance program (scaap) that  financially incentivize local law enforcement profiling, incarcerating and sharing information with ice.

These cooperation agreements with ice embolden racist and xenophobic law enforcement officers across the country to use immigration enforcement as a means of threatening and harassing people in immigrant communities. In Wisconsin, all of the eight 287g agreements were passed without public input or transparency. These programs are funded with local monies, draining much-needed resources.

Voces de la Frontera Action is committed to organizing Latinxs and multiracial youth as part of a broader progressive movement to defeat dangerous white supremacists on the ballot on election day. We are committed to organize on the ground -in schools, community and workplaces to build a stronger statewide pro-immigrant pro-worker movement and we will not stop till our side wins. Movement power through relentless struggle has brought every gain we have ever secured. Change and power comes from  our collective efforts, in the face of tyrants and cowards.

Today we renew our pledge to ourselves and to each other to continue the struggle on all its fronts . Si, se puede! On, Wisconsin.

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