2009/05/02:Wisconsin Radio Network: Immigrant workers rally in Madison, Milwaukee - Voces de la Frontera, Immigrant Workers Union

Immigrant workers rally in Madison, Milwaukee
Wisconsin Radio Network
Saturday, May 2, 2009, 12:30 AM
By Bob Hague

Hundreds of immigrants and their supporters rallied in Madison this May Day. "What I see is with unfair policies in place we have kids giving up at like, ten, twelve, thirteen years old," said Jon Hawkins, a teacher at Madison's J.C. Wright Middle School. "If they give up at that point, and they have no future ahead of them that's legitimate, they'll go in directions that aren't safe for us, or for them." Hawkins has seen firsthand how the recession has affected the children of immigrants. "School supplies. They can't afford them. Pretty all much all field trips, unless we can get a member of the public to fund them, go away. And also, as a school we cannot supply the proper food, proper supplies and proper equipment that our kids need."

David Sundstrom of Jefferson believes there are misunderstandings about the immigrant community. "Some people believe that they don't know anything, or that they ignorant because they don't want to learn English, which I believe is totally not true," said Sunstrom. Event organizers hoped to draw attention to the need for a comprehensive immigration policy. "President Obama has a lot of work to do," said Sundstrom. "I think it's going to take time for any changes to occur, but I'm optimistic overall." Hawkins was more cautious. "I would say cautious optimism. I think his heart's in the right place. Whether the politics can work out is what I question."

The theme of the Madison event, "March for the Poor, the Immigrants & the Workers" took on added relevance - and perhaps some unintentional irony - with the news that Chrysler Corporation plans to close it's Kenosha engine plant and ship the jobs there to Mexico.

A press release from Voces De La Frontera, which organized events in Milwaukee and Racine, said that "around 30,000 people joined the Milwaukee May 1 march to support the Obama Administration's recent declarations in support of passing humane immigration reform in 2009 and to express their solidarity with immigrant families and workers."