Tag Archives: voces de la frontera

FIRM Spotlight: Students in WI force Rep. Ryan to distance himself from FAIR

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been forced to rewrite his own history in the past few days. Ryan recently granted an interview to FAIR (the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform) during their “Hold their Feet to the Fire” event here in Washington, DC last month.

For those of you who are regular readers, you are familiar with FAIR. For those of you who aren’t, the rundown is this: they are a designated hate group by the SPLC and are a part of the John Tanton network that has extensive ties to the White Supremacist movement. In short, they are the force working against our pro-immigrant movement.

Students working with Voces de la Frontera, a FIRM partner, in Racine, WI organized a rally against Rep. Ryan for his involvement with FAIR. From local newspaper the Journal:

A group of about 50 people marched outside of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s Downtown Racine office at 216 Sixth St. on Tuesday, angered by the Janesville Republican’s decision to grant an interview during an event sponsored by an immigration reform organization in Washington, D.C.

Apparently, the students made a big impact: that same day Rep. Ryan released a statement distancing himself from FAIR and his name has since been pulled from their website as a “participant” in last month’s “Hold their Feet to the Fire” event.

It is so important for lawmakers and the media to recognize groups like FAIR for what they really are: extremists. Many of these groups (and especially FAIR) can all be traced to one central figure, John Tanton.

“He’s a central player in the organization. He’s not some ancillary guy. He’s got this terrible legacy,” Beirich said of Tanton, who ran the organization for a few decades and now serves on its board. “Frankly he’s an extremist. He’s funded white supremacist groups. He’s hung out with white supremacists.”

Congratulations to the student activists in Wisconsin for their victory yesterday.

Racine Voces de la Frontera coordinator Maria Morales also sees this as a victory.

“FAIR is a thinly veiled hate group that too often gets into the mainstream media as a legitimate counterpoint of view. When Representatives like Ryan disassociate themselves from FAIR it helps to discredit them,” she explains. “Now we need Ryan to do more. Many families in Racine are suffering because of a broken immigration system. We need him to work with us towards comprehensive immigration reform.”

Can you feel the momentum building? I can.

FIRM Spotlight: Voces de la Frontera celebrates In-state Tuition Victory in WI

On June 29th,Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed the 2009-2011 state budget, including a provision requiring state Universities to charge in-state tuition to “undocumented students who have lived in Wisconsin at least 3 years prior to graduating from high school or obtaining a GED”. Wisconsin is the 11th state to level the educational playing field, following in the footsteps of  Texas, Oklahoma, New York, California, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, Illinois, New Mexico and Washington. This is also another step forward in the passage of the DREAM Act.

This is a historic victory for the youth of Wisconsin, including SUFRIR and SUITS – two youth organizing groups who were integral in the fight for in-state tuition. And while the celebration of victory was ocurring, advocates in Wisconsin also lamented the defeat of a measure in this year’s budget that would have created a drivers’ card for immigrants.

Christine Neumann-Oritz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera (a FIRM partner), said:

This is no doubt a historic day for civil rights in education, but the crisis in the immigrant community created by the loss of drivers licenses will not go away. It goes without saying that we along with our partners in the Coalition for Safe Roads will work to see that legislation is introduced this session for drivers cards.

Congratulations to all of the youth and activists who made this victory possible – especially to VDLF and SUFRIR. We are standing FIRM with you in your fight for immigrant rights and comprehensive reform.

FIRM Spotlight: VDLF – Wisconsin Includes Driver’s Cards for Immigrants


From our partners at Voces de la Frontera in Wisconsin (who are doing amazing work!)

We have wonderful news to report, last night the Joint Finance Committee voted to include  Driver’s Card for immigrants in the state budget.

This critical step in the legislative process was the result of the hard work that has been achieved collectively by members of the Coalition for Safe Roads and supporters, and Representative Pedro Colon’s leadership and the hard work of his staff.

Thank you to everyone who made calls, wrote letters, made their support known at the public forums on the state budget, and mobilized to the State Capitol to lobby your representative.

This was an essential victory, but we have two more steps to go:  the budget will go to the state legislature (Assembly and Senate) for vote and then to the Governor.

As many of you may already know, this victory follows in the heels of our previous victory for in-state tuition for immigrant students which passed last Friday by a similar vote of 12-4 on Joint Finance along party lines.

We have achieved our goal of getting both pro-immigrant provisions into the state budget and we must work hard to achieve the votes necessary in the next two stages of the legislative process.

Si se puede!

Congratulations to the folks in Wisconsin on these two huge victories. From the local level all the way to the national debate, the tides are turning in our favor on pro-immigrant legislation and comprehensive reform. Stay tuned, because next week will be packed full of actions, activities and chances to join in the fight.

FIRM Spotlight: Voces de la Frontera’s Christine Neumann-Ortiz


Celina from Feministing recently interviewed Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of FIRM’s partner group, Voces de la Frontera. She gives a great overview of the current immigration debate and what immigrant rights mean to everyday folks. Here’s an excerpt:

On an everyday level, what do immigrant rights mean? And how do immigrant rights affect Americans who are not recent immigrants?
On an everyday level, immigrant rights means the right to be free of fear. Fear that at any moment you can be picked up and be separated from your family; the sense that everything you have worked for is fragile. Having to live with the fear of traveling within the U.S. and being stopped by police and questioned about your status, fear of not having identification that is so necessary in everyday life, the fear of crossing the border to be reunited with your family because of the danger if you try to come back. Fear of approaching the police if you are the victim of a crime. Fear of jail. Fear of hunger. The anguish of having to make the choice between seeing your family, in many cases your children or your aging parents, or sending them money to help them survive.

Immigrant rights affects all workers because historically, we have only raised the quality of life for working people in the U.S. by organizing across ethnic, racial, and gender lines. Immigrant workers are one segment of low-income workers in this country. If we are going to turn low-income industries into living wage industries immigrant workers have to be organized and the threat of deportation is a powerful weapon that employers use to threaten workers.

The full interview is definitely worth the read. Hat-tip to Celina at Feministing for featuring Christine, who is doing such amazing work in Wisconsin!

ACTION: Mobilize for Drivers’ License and Education Rights in Wisconsin


Last week I highlighted the great work our partners at Voces de la Frontera are doing in Wisconsin. This week, you can join them in their fight!

From VDLF:

Mobilize for Drivers’ Licenses & Education Rights  at State Budget Hearing

Voces de la Frontera is inviting the community to mobilize to demonstrate our support for drivers’ license certificates and in-state tuition for immigrants in the State budget.

Please wear your Voces de la Frontera t-shirt!

What: Milwaukee Metro State Budget Hearing
When: Wednesday, March 25

Where: State Fair Park, Banquet Room #2
640 S 84th St. West Allis
Time: If going directly to State Fair, event begins at:  2:30 PM- 4:00 pm

If you need transportation, arrive at Voces de la Frontera, 1027 S. 5th Street at 1:30pm.
Please call to confirm your seat on the bus!  414.643.1620

FIRM Spotlight: Voces de la Frontera – 700 Lobby State Capitol

With the call for immigration reform and immigrant rights gaining momentum, its really encouraging to see the great work being done at the state and local level by community organizations. In Wisconsin, a battle has been raging over drivers license laws and in-state tuition for undocumented students. Our friends at Voces de la Frontera are on the frontlines, fighting the good fight.

Check  out Voces’ video about the DREAM act for tuition for undocumented students below.

From our partners at Voces de la Frontera in Wisconsin:

With chants of , “Sí se puede” and “Yes we can”, nearly 700 Wisconsinites filled the State Capitol on March 18, 2009 to show their support of drivers’ license certificates for immigrants and in-state tuition rates for immigrant youth who graduate from Wisconsin high schools.

The event was organized by the Voces de la Frontera and its youth chapter, Students United for Immigrant Rights and the Coalition for Safe Roads, a diverse grassroots coalition that includes Wisconsin dairy farmers, religious and community leaders, teachers and youth.

Coalition members met with their elected officials and provided testimony at a public hearing with members from the Joint Finance Committee. Groups came from Green Bay, Whitewater, Kenosha, Racine, Wautoma, Madison and Milwaukee.

Speaking in support of the in-state tuition, an impassioned teacher from Milwaukee said, “I tell all my students, ‘ dream, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to it’. Please don’t make me lie to these kids. ”

Carl Klessig, a dairy farmer from Manitowoc, stated that, “immigrant workers are hard working and family oriented. They are an important part of Wisconsin’s economy.”

Under the Real ID Act, states can provide a drivers’ certificate to individuals without a social security number as long as it is not used as a form of federal identification. The Coalition advocates for this measure to ensure public safety for everyone on Wisconsin roads.