It seems like only yesterday that hundreds of thousands gathered en-masse at the Wisconsin state capitol to oppose recently re-elected Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s controversial assault on the right of public workers to collectively bargain.
Community organizations off all stripes joined labor unions, teachers, faith leaders and others in a show of unity rarely if ever seen before in Wisconsin.
Latino Wisconsinites, myself included, were among those who showed up at the capitol in large numbers -- a clear sign of solidarity with our labor allies. But it was also a reflection of the fact that Walker’s attacks have extended to issues directly affecting the immigrant Latino community, including the abolition of in-state tuition for immigrant students, and support for restrictive voter ID laws which make it more difficult for many in the Latino community to vote.
From the beginning, Voces de la Frontera, Wisconsin’s leading immigrant rights group and worker’s center, was on the forefront of the drive to push back against these attacks.
Voces has always believed that power comes from below, and that when people unite they can overcome injustice to build a better world. In our vision of this better world, Scott Walker is not the governor of Wisconsin. The fact that yesterday’s historic recall election happened at all is because it was demanded by people who could not stand silent in the face of Walker’s attacks on unions, women and immigrants.
Miguel Chavez Gomez, a Voces member and a proud “new American,” participated in early voting for the first time since becoming a U.S. Citizen this past year. Miguel says: "I see [voting] as my duty, and am thankful for the opportunity as well as everything (else) this country has provided me.”
As a first generation Mexican-American, I too feel fortunate to have the right to exercise my vote, and feel it is important that I use it as a tool to help those who need help the most from their government -- people who are often neglected when it comes time to set a national political agenda. I can’t ever forget where I come from because it has shaped who I have become, and it’s not just about helping “my people,” but about standing up for those who are left without a voice due to a broken immigration system.
I don’t want a governor who signs laws that make wage discrimination easier. As a woman of color, I understand that doing so is a huge step in the wrong direction. I don’t want a governor who doesn’t understand the importance of in-state tuition for undocumented students. What I do want, along with many other Latino Wisconsinites, is a governor who will stand for the people, and a progressive state that will be welcoming to the new faces of America, no matter what color they are or what language they speak.
The loss of the recall election is a setback, but the Latinos of Wisconsin will continue to fight with our allies for the restoration of our state.
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