Immigration Protests Still Going Strong

April 18, 2016 7:04 am
by David Jakeman

The presidential-campaign rhetoric has heated up over immigration, and so have the protests advocating comprehensive immigration reform. A recent gathering in the Wisconsin State Capital Building shows that immigrant rights advocates are still mobilizing to have their voices heard.

Wisconsin Rally

The pictures of the pro-immigrant activists display crowds of people filling the Wisconsin State Capitol building. At stake are two bills that many people feel are too harsh on the immigrant community. The first bill, AB 450, is an attempt by the state legislature to stop what are called sanctuary cities from cropping up in Wisconsin. The second, SB 533, would stop local governments from providing identification cards to undocumented immigrants.

The second bill has actually made its way through the Wisconsin legislature, and it’s now up to the Republican Governor Scott Walker to make the final decision. It remains to be seen whether or not Walker will sign it. Walker was an early drop out from the Republican presidential primary, and one has to imagine that he still has presidential ambitions. His decision on the immigration bill could work either way: if Walker wants to be able to attract moderates, then he probably should veto the bill. But given the difficult Republican presidential primary landscape, he might feel pressure to sign off on it.

Protestors gathered on all levels of the Capitol rotunda to protest the bills. They sponsored a day dubbed “A Day without Latinos and Immigrants in Wisconsin,” which encouraged not only the number of activists lining the green marbled capitol halls, but also encouraged walkouts for the day to show the contribution that immigrants make to the city.1

Seattle Immigration Rallies

Rallies in Seattle have also occurred in the past year. Seattle immigration attorneys can remember protests blocking the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center’s exit. The rallies also represent the nationwide frustrations with a lack of movement on immigration reform. Of course, there is support on the other side for bills like those going on in Wisconsin, with many U.S. citizens worried about job security in a volatile and difficult global market.

Overall, immigrant rights advocates home that the new president will be someone who helps chart a constructive path forward towards immigration reform. But the Republican Party is not looking to provide such a person, with Trump and Cruz clearly leading the races. The best hope for a Republican candidate has been Marco Rubio, and he faltered ever since the New Hampshire primary after being drubbed by Chris Christie and eventually bowed out of the campaign.

Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton look like they would support comprehensive immigration reform, but they would also have a harder time rallying Republican support for such a method. We’ll all just have to wait to see how it plays out, but until then, expect to see more immigration rallies.

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