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Business-owners help fuel "Day Without Latinxs, Immigrants, and Refugees.”
2/15/2017

Business-owners in Wisconsin helped fuel the "Day Without Latinxs, Immigrants, and Refugees.”

Monday’s protest ended with a march that led from the offices of Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant advocacy group, to the steps of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Though the march took place in Milwaukee, more than 150 businesses closed statewide, including over 120 just in the metro Milwaukee area. Participants included factories, hotels, manufacturers, bakery stores, construction companies, auto dealers, restaurants and many more.

Businesses across the state showed solidarity, including Los Canaritos in Kenosha, Jose’s Restaurant in Wisconsin Dells, La Morelos in Racine, Luigi’s Bar & Grill in Manitowoc, Packerland in Green Bay and both La Taguara locations in Madison.

In Madison, two of the 19 restaurants in the Food Fight Restaurant Group closed, while others limited their menu, and all supported the protests in some way, as reported by WISC-TV. Four hundred of Food Fight Restaurant Group's 1,100 combined employees are Latinos.

Some businesses limited their hours, and some production facilities experienced work stoppages, according to a release from Voces de la Frontera.

Recent actions by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to deputize his sheriffs as acting immigration agents under the federal 287g program could spell trouble for the immigrant worker community, according to Daniel Gutierrez-Ayala, an organizer for Voces de la Frontera.

Gutierrez-Ayala runs citizenship classes for the group, working with students, teachers and directors to get the “best possible education for permanent residents that are trying to become citizens.”

That means he helps them with visas and renewing greencards, and gets a lot of face time with people who would be most directly affected by President Trump’s immigration changes.

“Immigrants are fearful of about what attacks the president plans to implement in our state,” Gutierrez-Ayala said. “We have already seen the effects of things that are happening.”

While the group is still working on developing a rapid-response team for raids and “direct attacks on the community,” the protests were a way for Wisconsin immigrants and their families to show there is action that can be taken to draw attention to anti-immigrant policies and the negative effects they have, Gutierrez-Ayala says.

“Today was a show of power, of how much power we have as a state,” Gutierrez-Ayala said Monday. “We sent a strong message to Clarke and Trump, that we’re not gonna sit here and just take it, and we will protect our community with hard work and civil disobedience.”

Mayra Medrano, president of the Latino Chamber of Commerce, says demonstrations like these help people to understand the economic impacts of anti-immigration policies.

“We definitely saw the impact of the “Day Without Latinxs, Immigrants, and Refugees” and we really like to highlight, as well as demonstrate, that there is an economic component to this,” Mayra said. “In the media, people might not see what that means once you remove these people from the workforce.”

She also pointed to the dairy industry as being especially reliant on immigrants.

The crowd that gathered in front of the Milwaukee County Courthouse listened to music and were addressed by various community leaders and officials including Milwaukee Co. Executive Chris Abele, Milwaukee Co. Supervisor Supreme Moore-Omokunde, and Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa.

"Latinos are the backbone of Wisconsin's dairy industry," said Germán Sanchez, a dairy worker from Omro who was part of the protest. "Latinos are responsible for a large part of Wisconsin's milk production. ...Trump needs to know that if he is putting Latinos at risk, he is putting the dairy industry and the whole economy at risk."

Sam Singleton-Freeman, head of communications for Voces de la Frontera, said current lists by Voces de la Frontera are less than comprehensive, and more businesses are being added as the group finds out about them.

See the partial lists of Wisconsin businesses closed or partially shut down for the protests:

Milwaukee: http://wisbusiness.com/1008/WisBiz___MKE_Biz_s_closed_for_protests_1.pdf
statewide: http://wisbusiness.com/1008/WisBiz___state_biz_s_closed_for_protests.pdf
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