Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Protest focuses on alien rights

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Immigrants joined members and supporters of the Immigrant
Workers Union at a rally Monday to honor families of deportees and denounce
Dane County?s reporting policy.

IWU said it denounces Sheriff Dave Mahoney?s practices of
reporting undocumented workers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for criminal


?We hope the events like this are helping to educate people
that this is a tragedy for everybody,? said Alex Gillis, head of IWU in Dane

Gillis said employment opportunity is the primary draw for
immigrants to the United States, where the demand for labor is high.

?Especially since the free trade agreements, huge resources
of wealth and jobs are moving from the south of the continent to the north,? he
added. ?[The U.S.] needs more workers to supply ? the labor market.?

According to past statements from Mahoney, asking people
about immigrant status during the booking process has been standard procedure
for 28 years. Under the Vienna Convention, a diplomatic agreement between
nations, Mahoney said he is required to notify certain countries? consulates if
a person from that country is booked in Dane County Jail.

The crowd outside the Dane County building was small.

Yvonne Geerts, an organizer of the event and University of
Wisconsin alumna, attributed the small turnout of undocumented immigrants and
their families to the culture of fear she said has been ?created by the
sheriff, by broken immigration reform policies, by the fact that you do not
feel comfortable leaving your house without looking over your shoulder.?

Gillis said undocumented workers were also especially
fearful to attend the rally because of a raid Sunday at a nightclub in Monona
where 20 police officers allegedly entered the club to arrest an undocumented

?I am hopeful, and I am afraid. ? We understand this a very
bad moment for us. There is a lot of fear in the community and a lot of panic,?
Gillis said.

Among the immigrants in the crowd was Benito Garcia. He said
he left Mexico one year ago to work in Madison. Garcia, 24, would not say
whether he was living in Madison legally or illegally, just that he is here
only to work. However, he also said he does not condone illegal immigration.

Karin Sandvik said she grew up in Germany and came to the
U.S. after World War II. She said she resonates with undocumented immigrants in
the U.S.

?We are not clear what we want really. We are a nation of
immigrants, and we are shipping all our jobs abroad and not letting people come
here,? Sandvik said. ?I just think we need to be honest and treat people as
humans rather than objects.?

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