Hispanics march in Milwaukee against immigration bills

March 23, 2006


(CNN) — Thousands of demonstrators
marched in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Thursday to oppose tough
anti-immigration legislation sponsored by their Republican Congressman
Jim Sensenbrenner.

House Resolution 4437 would make all
undocumented immigrants felons and require all employers to verify the
immigration status of its employees.

The House already has passed
Sensenbrenner’s bill, and Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, has introduced
a companion bill in the Senate that also would make it a felony to be
in the United States without the proper paperwork.

Sensenbrenner
said in a statement last year that his bill would help “regain control
of our borders and prevent illegal immigration” as well as “help
strengthen and promote our compassionate and welcoming legal
immigration system.”

About 30,000 protesters on Thursday marched
into downtown Milwaukee as part of a demonstration titled “A Day
Without Latinos” in which Latinos were encouraged to take time from
their jobs to march, according to Voces de la Frontera, which organized
the event. Dozens of Milwaukee businesses also closed Thursday in
protest.

“A Day Without Latinos,” the theme of the Milwaukee
protest, borrows its name from a 2004 comedy called “A Day Without a
Mexican,” in which California wakes up one day to find that it’s
Hispanic residents have inexplicably disappeared.

The Milwaukee
march was one of several recent protests organized across the nation by
groups opposed to immigration bills considered by Congress.

The
Senate Judiciary Committee has until Monday to vote on the competing
legislation, but one Senate aide said the prospects on Senators taking
action did not seem bright. The aide called negotiations in the Senate
“slow going” and predicted a showdown over the bill.

Critics of
the legislation say Sensenbrenner is trying to deport the 11 million to
12 million people who are in the United States illegally. Proponents
say keeping tabs on immigrants is vital to national security. President
Bush echoed that sentiment in comments to reporters Thursday.

“Part
of enforcing our borders is to have a guest-worker program that
encourages people to register their presence, so that we know who they
are and says to them, ‘If you’re doing a job an American won’t do,
you’re welcome here for a period of time to do that job.’ “

But Democrats are saying the Frist and Sensenbrenner measures go too far.

“This
bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even
Jesus himself,” said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York.

The Web
site for Voces de la Frontera, which in Spanish means Voices from the
Border, states that in addition to turning immigrants into felons and
pressuring employers, Sensenbrenner’s bill also could affect
immigrants’ driving privileges and emergency medical care.

Click to continue reading story

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