MILWAUKEE- As part of a series of national protests against Arizona's SB 1070 law, more than 20,000 people marched here April 29 in Voces de la Frontera's annual May Day march.
The Arizona SB 1070 law, whose constitutionality is in question in the U.S. Supreme Court, has been widely criticized for promoting racial profiling and undermining public safety by forcing police to take the role of federal immigration officials and check the immigration status of anyone they may have "reasonable suspicion" to believe is undocumented.
As Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz has described it, "The court's landmark ruling, expected in June, will determine whether our nation will uphold the historic gains of the civil rights movement or revert back to a pre-civil rights era of second-class citizenship. This racist law only serves corporate interests: the private prisons, private bond companies, military companies at the border, and corporations that contract prison labor for less than the minimum wage."
Jennifer Martinez, a Manitowoc woman whose husband Jaime Martinez was deported to Mexico last month, gave an emotional testimony to the crowd about the cruel impact our immigration enforcement policies have had on herself and her four children when immigration ripped Jaime away from his family.
Voces was joined by a coalition of groups including those representing labor unions, faith, LGBT, and more. Prior to the march, gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk and NAACP President James Hall made statements in solidarity outside the Voces office, in addition to other elected officials and community leaders. All candidates for governor in Wisconsin's upcoming recall election were invited to the event, including Governor Scott Walker.
At the main stage in Veteran's Park after the march, Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois fired up the crowd with a speech on family unification and the importance of Latinos participating in the voting process, and of politicians defending the rights of all people in the country.
"We have to lift our voices, regardless of party, and speak for the immigrants who live here," he said.
Crowd coordinators measured the crowd filling ten full blocks at the height of the march.
Photo: Last year thousands march in Milwaukee's May Day demonstration. (PW/Scott Marshall)