|Vol. 11 No. 4
FEBRUARY 18, 2016
There is an old saying that I first learned about during the Vietnam War protests of the early 1970s. I think it was on a poster someone might
have been carrying during a protest that read, “If you aren’t busy growing, you’re busy dying.” And I can’t help but think about that saying in light
of the Latino protests against AB 450 and SB 533 that would basically tie the hands of local governments to remove barriers that undocumented
immigrants face in going to school and working in our area businesses and raising their families as they positively contribute to our
On Thursday, February 18th, upwards of 30,000 Latinos and their supporters descended on the State Capitol in protest. One of the speakers, a
Euro-American dairy farmer talked about how he relied upon Latino workers to maintain his dairy farm. Restaurants like Taqueria Guadalajara
deliberately closed their doors and other businesses closed because their Latino workers were not present. There was an increase of 3,000
Madison Metropolitan School District students absent and 300 district teachers were not present in the schools, but the vast majority was
present at the State Capitol.
The Latina owner of a small grocery store is worried about her business. While she is a legal resident of the state of Wisconsin, she is
concerned that her undocumented customers may leave the state in light of the draconian measures that the state government is trying to pass.
She is concerned that her very legitimate business that employees people who are here legally could close if a large share of her customers
Like the dairy farmer and many service industry businesses like restaurants and hotels, undocumented immigrants are part of their business in
some way, shape or form. They are a symbol that the undocumented immigrants are a part of Wisconsin’s economy, whether our state
representatives like it or not.
Wisconsin has continuously failed to create a sufficient number of private sector jobs in the past eight years and large companies like Kraft-
Heinz are closing up shop in Wisconsin and moving to neighboring states. We need all of the job creation by small businesses in the state that
we can muster. And we need to be encouraging those small businesses to thrive.
I can only wonder — as the closing of Taqueria Guadalajara and most Pasquale restaurants symbolized — what would happen to our state’s
economy if some state legislation forced a quick migration of undocumented immigrants and the U.S. citizens who are a part of their families out
of the state of Wisconsin. I can’t help but feel that a quick recessionary spiral would hit the state as businesses closed and other businesses
could not find enough workers, not only in the agricultural sector and service sector, but also in the professions. Undocumented immigrants
come with a vast array or experiences and skill sets.
As I covered the State Capitol rally, I heard over and over again that Latinos are here to stay in spite of the draconian measures that have been
recently passed. And Governor Walker and the Republican leadership in the state legislature should be glad that they are determined to stay. A
state economy that isn’t busy growing is busy dying. And a Estado Sin Latinos would mean a state legislature sin Republicans as people would
vote them out quickly as they learned what their ill-thought-out policies were doing to the state and its economy.
Wisconsin’s growth isn’t coming from Europe anymore. It’s coming from Latin America, Africa and Asia. Not adjusting to this reality and setting
up artificial politically-motivated barriers will continue to cause Wisconsin to sink lower in the area of job creation for Wisconsin will be
surrounded by states that are welcoming and their markets growing while Wisconsin stagnates and loses jobs and consumers.
The conservative forces in the state had better realize that you can try to take Wisconsin back to the 1950s, but you can never return to the past
just as Milwaukee is not going to return to the manufacturing greatness that it experienced in the 1950s and 1960s. As much as you may want
to go back, you never can.
And so, the conservatives need to wake up and realize that they can perhaps direct the change through government policy and not prevent it.
And the Republican Party had better take heed of that old saying and realize that a political part that isn’t busy growing its base is busy watching
its base wither and die. They may have victory today, but they are headed for certain defeat tomorrow.
I hope the Dia Sin Latinos is a watershed moment in Wisconsin politics. I hope the Republican leadership has taken heed and realize that they
cannot always be on the wrong side of the interests of a growing demographic. If they try to have it all now — they have gerrymandered the
power to do it — they will lose it all in the future. We need to embrace and not oppress our Latino brothers and sisters. That is our future.
I have almost been in shock since I saw the email from the UW-Madison announcing that Vice-Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell
would be leaving us for the University of Texas in March. Darrell has been a Madisonian for 40 years, served as the secretary of DNR for a
while under Governor Tommy Thompson and has been vice-chancellor since the early 2000s. On his capacity as vice-chancellor, Darrell has
been a relatively quiet presence at UW-Madison who has been a godfather, of sorts, to the UW-Madison initiatives.
When Paul Barrows became a sacrificial lamb for the Republican conservatives who were trying every way under the sun to cut the budget of
UW-Madison because it was a bastion for liberals, it was Darrell who kept everything stitched together while new leadership was formed.
Programs like PEOPLE and First Wave have grown during his tenure. We won’t know what we had in Darrell Bazzell until after he is gone. I and
all people who work on diversity and inclusion issues will miss him. And we can only pray that his eventual replacement will have the same
sensitivity and commitment to making the UW-Madison a world class institution of higher learning for all citizens of the state of Wisconsin.
Thank you Darrell for a job well done!