Thousands of people marched in Waukesha Tuesday for the annual A Day Without Latinxs and Immigrants in Wisconsin.
The demonstration is usually held in Milwaukee, but this year’s organizers moved it to Waukesha.
People from across the state participated in support of immigrants’ rights, but also in opposition to 287(g). The latter is a program that would allow local law enforcement to act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson agreed to participate in the program earlier this year. Marchers were fighting to keep the program out of Waukesha.
“Si se puede” echoed through the streets of downtown Waukesha as the community came together to show solidarity for immigrants’ rights. It means, “Yes, it can be done.”
A Day Without Latinxs began with an early morning rally at Cutler Park in Waukesha. The site was filled with men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds holding signs reading: “Keep Families Together,” “Solidarity,” and “We are all Wisconsin.”
The next stop was the Waukesha County Courthouse. The crowd navigated through neighborhoods, escorted by police. People came out of their homes to watch protesters line the streets – some even joined the cause.
Marlisa Gonzalez was one protestor who could be heard chanting “Si Se Puede” in the sea of marchers.
“I can’t believe we’re in 2000s still fighting for these,” Gonzalez said.
“These” being the equality and rights of minority people.
Gonzalez said she came to the march in opposition to 287(g) policies and what she called the Trump Administration’s effort to stop immigrants from coming into the U.S.
She said being surrounded by so many people fighting for the same cause gave her goosebumps. “It’s great to see that we can all unite and represent what we’re here to fight and show the impact that immigrants and the Hispanic community, and all these different minorities can come do when we’re together.”
Gonzalez said she’s luck to not have been personally affected by anti-immigrant policies but she’s known friends who have been. “That’s why I’m out here making sure they get the due process they deserve,” she added.
Supporting immigrant justice was also a reason Jack Davila attended the protest. He’s on the executive board for Voces de la Frontera Action.
The group, he said, is calling for a stop to the deportations, a stop to families being torn apart by the Trump Administration, and to stop 287(g) from happening in Waukesha County.
Davila said he hasn’t personally been affected by anti-immigration policies either, but said he’s heard enough stories at Voces that prove people are really afraid. “They’re scared that they’re gonna go drop their kids off at school and immigration authorities are gonna be there.”
In addition to igniting people’s fear of deportation, he said, another reason Waukesha doesn’t need 287(g) is because it will work against public safety.
Fear of deportation can lessen the likelihood that immigrants will cooperate with law enforcement, Davila added, which ultimately makes it harder for Waukesha County to solve crimes.
However, Davila said an event like A Day Without Latinxs is important because it will hopefully show authority the power of the Latino community in Wisconsin “We cannot be afraid anymore. There is power in protest. These people cannot be afraid to come out of the shadows.”