Opposing Arizona-like Anti-Immigrant Policies at Lobby Day 2011

For WNPJ's 20th anniversary, a grassroots lobby day was held on February 23, 2011.  One of the focus issues was the opposition of Arizona-like Anti-Immigrant Policies.  Below is information that was created for the lobby day and to help with on-going advocacy.

 

Issue Backgrounder: Immigrant Rights


BACKGROUND:
Last November, Representative Don Pridemore (R–Hartford) announced that he was drafting a bill modeled after Arizona’s infamous SB1070. Pridemore’s bill would allow law enforcement officials to detain someone for up to 48 hours, if officials have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the United States without authorization. To avoid detention, the person must immediately show proof of her or his legal right to be in the United States. After holding the person for 48 hours, officials could contact the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The bill would also allow citizens to sue their municipalities if they suspect that the law is not being enforced, opening up new costs and liabilities for local governments. The bill lacks guidelines about what is “reasonable suspicion” and has only weak protections against racial profiling and discrimination. 
 
ASK FOR LEGISLATORS:
 
We ask that the legislature not consider this bill. If the bill is introduced, we ask you to strongly and actively oppose it. 
 
WHY ARIZONA-LIKE ANTI-IMMIGRANT POLICIES ARE BAD FOR WISCONSIN:
 
  • Immigrants are an important part of Wisconsin. Though the demographics of those migrating have changed, the importance of immigrant communities to our state endures. In addition to being culturally and socially important, studies show that undocumented migrants comprise 40% of labor in Wisconsin’s dairy industry. They also provide crucial work power in other industries including tourism, agriculture, landscaping and construction. Wisconsin has always been a state that welcomes immigrants and should continue to do so. 
  • Racial profiling makes us all less safe. As has been widely and repeatedly documented, people of color are much more likely to be pulled over or questioned by police than are white people. The Pridemore bill will only exacerbate this problem. The bill would encourage law enforcement officials to focus on appearance rather than behavior or other actual risk factors. Additionally, anti-immigrant policies cause fear among communities of color. This deters people from reporting crimes to police, unwittingly creating an atmosphere where criminal behavior can flourish. 
  • Immigration should remain a federal issue. While the federal government hasn’t passed comprehensive immigration reform, it doesn’t make sense for states, counties or cities to create their own policies. If every government had its own immigration policy, it would create an unmanageable logistical situation for people ranging from law enforcement officers to school teachers. It would also confuse citizens and immigrants alike. If we’re unhappy with the current situation, we should push for federal immigration reform. 
 
WHAT YOU CAN DO AFTER LOBBY DAY:
 
  • Join WNPJ’s immigrant rights work group, by contacting the office at (608) 250-9240 or emailing diane@wnpj.org. 
  • Do you like writing? WNPJ’s immigrant rights work group has a writers bureau, which sends letters to the editor to challenge negative coverage of immigrants and immigration issues. Email sanistefania@gmail.com to get involved. 
  • Support organizations focused on immigration issues, including the following Wisconsin groups: 
    • LUChA – Latinos United for Change and Advancement: (608) 212-2391 
    • Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Agnes, Justice, Peace and Ecology Office: (920) 907-2315, www.csasisters.org 
    • South Central Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO: (608) 256-5111, www.scfl.org 
    • School of the Americas Watch – Madison: (608) 663-3233, www.soaw.org