Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

District 48 Assembly Candidate Andy Heidt

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

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Scott Walker and his Corporate Puppeteers.

It’s been a cold spring here in Madison.  Just about every rally I’ve been a part of, it seems to have been freezing, snowing and/or raining.  Surprisingly, the weather looked promising for the May Day, or International Workers Day, rally that would begin with speakers in Brittingham Park, involve a March to the State Capitol, and end with additional speakers on the Capitol steps.  Seemed like a great day to load my son Sal into the bike trailer and set out on a bit of an adventure.

Sal in his Chariot about to head out to the rally.

Before leaving the house, I decided to wear my Italian National Football team jacket in recognition of my own immigrant ancestry; My grandparents had come from Comune di Loreto Aprutino in Italy.  There is also an important Italian connection with Brittingham Park, as Italian immigrants used to have annual family picnics there, on the shore of Monona bay.  The park happens to be adjacent to the Greenbush neighborhood which was once the heart and soul of Madison’s Italian community. Sadly, under the guise of “Urban Renewal” in the 1960’s, the Greenbush neighborhood was bulldozed to make way for public housing and hospitals. All of the Italians and African Americans who adored the neighborhood were relocated elsewhere. One of the only remaining remnants of the old ‘Bush is the Italian Workmans Club building, or properly, “Club Lavoratori Italiani Siclilia”. I’m proud to be a member of the council and active in this organization that has continually served the community since 1912.  Anyway, I’m not that far removed from my own familial immigrant past so I feel a particular kinship with current immigrants and their desire for the same opportunities afforded to my family.

So Sal and I pack up and happily hit the road on this beautiful sunny day…and run smack into 30 mph headwinds!  Anyone who has a pulled a bike trailer with a 34 lb 3-year-old and all his “stuff” knows that this was not an easy ride.  We eventually arrive despite the best efforts of the wind to keep us away, and notice that the turnout is pretty impressive, but nowhere near the 100 thousand strong crowd that marched in Milwaukee with National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. There is a solid mix of folks associated with the Immigrant Workers Union, Professional and Labor Unions, families with small children, police, teachers and activists. The main message of the rally is:

A Just Taxation System where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share!
Living Wage Jobs!
The Right to Collectively Organize and Bargain!
Quality, Affordable Public Education!
Instate Tuition for Undocumented Students!
Quality and Affordable Healthcare for All!
Protection of our Environment!
Access to Healthy Food and Quality Housing!
A Secure Retirement!
No Arizona-style Anti-Immigrant Laws!

A pretty broad spectrum of people speak to the issues including Ben Manski from Liberty Tree, Jim Cavanaugh-President of the South Central Federation of Labor, Will Williams- Madison area Peace Coalition and Ibed Cisneros- Workers United.  I recognize many people in the crowd and chat with folks about some upcoming democracy-building activities we’re working on.  Some quotes from the speakers:

“The ‘divide and conquer’ mentality must not stand,” Andy Heidt, a union leader and candidate for State Assembly said. he then led a familiar chant –  “The people, united, will never be defeated!”

“Your issue is my issue,” Will Williams of the Madison Area Peace Coalition stated. “We’re fighting not just for immigrants or for the unions, we’re fighting for freedom.”

Marching up West Washington Avenue to the State Capitol.

The march begins and off we go accompanied by the sound of drums, chants and other instruments.  I connect with Ben and Sarah Manski and Andy Heidt who is running for the 48th District Assembly seat.  We march together, chatting about future plans and current events surrounding the Wisconsin Uprising while carrying the  Wisconsin Wave banner.  My son Sal is excited to be in the “parade” and is very curious about all the activity around him. Traffic is now backed up quite a bit as a couple thousand people have arrived to participate in the march. We reach the capitol and the wind is so strong that voices from the PA system  are carried away. We can’t get close enough because of our bike and trailer.  Sal says he wants a treat, so we walk over to State Street, buy some popcorn, sit on a bench and have a snack while enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and each others company.  I ask him if he had fun today.   He says “We had a very busy day daddy!  I had fun fighting the bad man in the capitol!” At first this seems funny.  Then the realization sets in that my three-year-old pretty much thinks all this stuff going on is the new state of normal. That to him, we always protest, we always fight.  When I was a kid I had no clue about the War In Vietnam and only a vague memory of Iran seizing US hostages.  Now I find myself growing angry that it has come to this; that Governor Walker and a radicalized right wing assembly/senate has given me no choice but to expend time and energy resisting the corporatization of the State that I truly love.  I wonder what memories my son will have of this time, and how participating in these events will shape his future. I am glad that we can participate together though, and share these experiences.

Father and Son on State Street after the rally.

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