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Voces de la Frontera in Milwaukee leads annual May Day March for immigration reform

May Day March flier
Voces de la Frontera
Voces de la Frontera.com
May Day March flier

The labor movement has been a defining part of Milwaukee’s history. In the late 1800s, the fight for labor rights led to the rise of socialist politics, creating the foundation of city services we still use today. It’s also a movement that’s been shaped by immigrants, both when it began and today, as the fight for labor rights continues.

Every May, we celebrate this history and the modern fight for labor rights in Wisconsin with various events, including the May Day march led by Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant and workers' rights organization based here in Milwaukee. This year, the group will be marching in support of driver's licenses for all and immigration reform. Voces' executive director, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, shares about the march's history and impact.

The May 1 March began in 2007 in response to a proposed bill that would have exercised a mass criminalization of immigrant workers and anyone who did not turn them in to authorities. Neumann-Ortiz also explains that the date, May 1, was chosen to reclaim a tradition of immigrant workers' rights and celebrate them.

"[The march] has really become a marker in the immigrant rights movement, both here in Wisconsin, but also nationally. So, the struggle to reform our immigration system, to make sure that there are legal pathways for people that people aren't trapped into living with the daily fear of deportation, having to work, pay taxes but yet, you could end up in jail and deported, even though you've been here 30 years," says Neumann-Ortiz. "And that's been a long struggle. Been a lot of progress made, but obviously, we haven't gotten there yet."

This year's march will begin at the Voces de la Frontera office located on 5th Street and Washington and make its way to the Department of Motor Vehicles downtown before concluding with a family gathering at Zeidler Park. The organization is starting a year-round campaign to provide driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin. Undocumented immigrants previously could get a driver's license without a social security number, but federal laws stripped that ability away.

The march will take place on Monday, May 1st at 11:00 a.m. with people gathering outside the Voces de la Frontera Milwaukee office, located at 1025 S. 5th. Street, Milwaukee, WI, 543204. 


Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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