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Immigrants Join Wisconsin Protests

Union supporters protest at the Capitol in Madison, WI

Union supporters protest at the state capitol in Madison, WI. (Photo: Mark Danielson/flickr)

The fight to save collective bargaining and union benefits in Wisconsin has attracted a wide coalition of supporters—immigrant groups among them.

Kabzuag Vaj, Executive director of of Freedom, Inc., an immigrant rights organization, told Laura Flanders of GRITtv “it’s the same fight.  First you go after immigrants, and now it’s just workers.”

Watch the interview:

Though they aren’t visible as a block amid the crowd of thousands, Vaj said migrant workers, immigrants, Hmong refugees and their children have been involved in an organized, coordinated response to Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to strip public unions of collective bargaining rights.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights group based in Milwaukee that has been bussing people to demonstrations in Madison said her organization will “continue to fight [the bill’s] passage in any way possible.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin state Rep. Don Pridemore has promised to introduce a bill in the legislature that is reminiscent of Arizona’s SB 1070 and would require immigrants suspected of crimes to show legal resident papers or be turned over to federal immigration authorities.

AboutSarah Kate Kramer
Sarah Kate Kramer first got hooked on collecting stories as a StoryCorps facilitator, then traveled the world with a microphone for a few years before settling down in her hometown of New York City. From 2010-2012 she was the editor of Feet in 2 Worlds and a freelance reporter for WNYC Radio, where she created “Niche Market,” a weekly segment that profiled specialty stores in New York. Sarah is now a producer at Radio Diaries, a non-profit that produces documentaries for NPR and other public radio outlets.