Press release from the Andy Heidt Campaign:
Candidate Heidt Says Bill Is Racist and Must Be Stopped
Forty-eighth District Assembly candidate Andy Heidt reacted today to the progress of Representative Donald Pridemore’s bill AB 173, the so-called the “anti-immigrant” bill, which mirrors Arizona’s SB1070.
“This is wrong in every way, “Heidt said. “We must protect the rights of each person who lives here, and must value each person’s contribution. This bill fosters divisiveness, suspicion and fear. The safety of our communities will be undermined because people will be afraid to contact law enforcement, and as police time will be diverted to the non-issue of monitoring immigration status.”
Like the Arizona bill, AB 173 makes racial profiling the law, requiring that police ask for proof of citizenship or legal immigration status from anyone questioned regarding civil or criminal violations if they have “reasonable suspicion” that person may be undocumented. Anyone unable to provide documentation could be detained for up to 48 hours and must prove they are in the country legally.
“Immigrants are already subject unfairly to detention and deportation, processes that tear families apart and traumatize communities,” Heidt said. “We should not criminalize being an immigrant. No human being is illegal.” He noted that immigrants contribute substantially to the state’s economy through spending and in taxes paid, and Wisconsin dairy farmers rely heavily on immigrant labor.
In contrast to the anti-immigrant sentiment expressed in AB 173, Heidt called for specific measures to protect and expand immigrant rights related to education, social services and work.
- Providing for in-state tuition for resident immigrants regardless of documentation status; access to public scholarships and loan programs; and at the secondary school level, resources to address the drop-out rate among students whose families struggle with poverty;
- Extending all services and programs, such as state identification, driver’s licensing, Badger Care, unemployment compensation and assistance with housing or food to all state residents regardless of national origin or immigration status;
- Enforcing state-wide worker protection rules including worker’s compensation to address the abuses immigrant workers face in many situations due to their vulnerability.
“Improving conditions for the state’s 250,000 immigrant families will also raise the standard of living in communities across the state,” Heidt said. “We will all benefit from treating every Wisconsin resident fairly.” As volunteer co-chair of Covering Kids and Families Wisconsin, Heidt worked to extend Badger Care to pregnant, non-qualified immigrant women, a measure that was enacted by the legislature with unanimous support.
“We can do much better than AB 173,” Heidt said. “The only possible benefit from the enactment of this bill would be to a private prison industry that might house those detained.’ At the same time, the economic cost of the bill would be borne by the public. Based on the experiences of other states, Wisconsin would likely have to defend the bill against legal challenges to its constitutionality. The state could also lose revenue due to a national boycott and face the loss of economic contributions made by immigrants through consumer spending, work and taxes