The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


Voces de la Frontera Condemns Introduction of Arizona-Copycat Bill in Wisconsin


As the largest immigrant rights organization in the state, Voces de la Frontera unequivocally condemns the passage of any racist, anti-immigrant legislation in Wisconsin.

Yesterday Representative Don Pridemore (R-Hartford) introduced a bill requiring law enforcement officers in Wisconsin to interrogate people they detain about their immigration status if they have 'reasonable suspicion" that the person is undocumented. However, the vagueness of the term "reasonable suspicion" is exactly whatgives cover to legalizing racial profiling.

"We will not tolerate this vicious bill, designed to lead directly to racial profiling and the criminalization of innocent people. Voces is prepared to mobilize widely in opposition." says Primitivo Torres, president of Voces de la Frontera.

The billismodeled after Arizona's SB-1070, the controversial anti-immigrant law whichprompted mass boycotts andcost that state hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business revenue. TheCenter for American Progress estimates that boycotts against Arizona in response to SB 1070 could cost the state more than $250 million in taxes, tourist spending and wages. Pridemore's bill is designed to do the same to Wisconsin, a state already facing economic challenges.

The bill also requires people to carry certain documents available to prove their immigration status or else risk being arrested, jailed, and deported. People of color are more likely to be racially profiled and more likely to be interrogated; this also violates their rights to be treated as equals under the law.

This legislation also violates US Constitutional rules, including the denial of Fourteenth Amendment equal protection guarantees, because it encourages racial discrimination against Latinos and other people having foreign appearance or who sound foreign. By interfering with the federal government's authority to regulate and enforce immigration law, it also opposes the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.

Pridemore's legislation claims that it is designed to avoid racial profiling, but it clearly encourages police officers to base their actions on people's appearance and characteristics as race, ethnicity, language, and social class.

This law would greatly harm the trust that authorities need from the public to protect Wisconsin residents. The law would also compel law enforcement officers to assign scarce resources to investigate false threats instead of solving serious crimes.

Voces de la Frontera and our allies will fight to ensure that Wisconsin does not inherit the moral and economic burden that has devastated Arizona.

Voces de la Frontera is Wisconsin's leading immigrant rights group - a grassroots organization that believes power comes from below and that people can overcome injustice to build a better world.