Madison residents take part in ‘Day Without Latinos’ march

Thousands protest immigration policy

A march filled streets in Milwaukee on Monday afternoon, when thousands took the day off from work and school to protest.

The “Day Without Latinos” protest that brought thousands to the Capitol Square in Madison last year expanded to downtown Milwaukee on Monday, where thousands gathered to protest the president’s recent travel ban and the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office plans to crack down on illegal immigration.

At least five buses filled with Madison residents came to the Milwaukee protest.

People in the crowd hoisted both Mexican and American flags Monday as they made their way downtown to the county courthouse.

“We are here to say no,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, with Voces de la Frontera, a Hispanic advocacy group. “We will not allow our people to be deported. We will not allow our people to be banned.”

Yaritza Brito, of Madison, helped organize parts of last year’s protest in the capital city.

“Last year people didn’t really put much attention to the issues that were going on,” Brito said. “With the president that we have that is attacking the Muslim and immigrant community we feel that we have the right to voice our rights now.”

Muslims came out as well.

“I am here to tell all of my Latino brothers and sisters that we are one humanity. We stand with you,” said Janan Najeeb, president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women Association.

Other immigrants stood in solidarity in the crowd.

“Everybody will get together and somebody will listen,” said Rauf Mein, a Pakistani immigrant from Milwaukee. “If every group is separate, nobody will listen.”

The groups were trying to get Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to listen Monday. Clarke has said he intends to take part in a federal program to allow his deputies to act as immigration agents, saying he’ll enforce the laws on the books.

He did not respond to the protests Monday, but last week posted his “regrets” on Facebook, saying he’d be “working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to identify criminal aliens.”

Those at the rally had a different message for those who may not have agreed with their demonstration.

“We know in history there are good laws and bad laws and horrible laws,” said Salvador Carranza, of Madison. “These are horrible laws. The laws have been dysfunctional for many years, and the reason many people are here without papers, without inspection as we say, is because they cannot come here any other way.”

Local leaders said the protest was only the beginning and they will likely plan more protest actions as the weeks go on.