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Milwaukee’s Trump Resistance Forms

Rallies for health care and immigrants draw crowds, more to come

Jan. 17, 2017
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A weekend of rallies preceding the inauguration of Donald Trump indicates that while he may have won Wisconsin by the slimmest of margins, he hasn’t won over the public. 

“On January 20 begins the dream of Donald Trump. Let’s make it his worst nightmare ever and start the ‘Hunger Games’ of resistance,” said Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic at the Saturday rally for immigrants and refugees on the Milwaukee County Courthouse steps, which drew hundreds of supporters from around the state.

On Sunday, roughly 800 Affordable Care Act supporters gathered at the near South Side restaurant Candela’s, which spilled out onto the sidewalk. 

Attendees at both events vowed to fight Trump’s attacks and prevent his threats from becoming reality. And both events were part of a nationwide movement that is forming the resistance to the Trump administration. 

“Today, this action is one of 70 actions around the country to send a message to the incoming Trump administration that we are here to stay,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, director of the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, which organized the Saturday rally. “And we are ready to fight for our community and to stand together.”

Neumann-Ortiz ticked off a list of Trump’s promises that would harm immigrants and refugees. Trump has said he’d deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants and their families, repeal President Barack Obama’s executive orders protecting immigrant children and their parents, refuse to accept refugees from largely Muslim nations, revitalize local law enforcement’s involvement in immigration actions and penalize communities who protect undocumented immigrants.

“Are we going to let that happen?” Neumann-Ortiz repeatedly asked the crowd. 

“No,” the attendees responded. 

Neumann-Ortiz said Voces has joined with allied groups around the state to form a defense network to protect immigrants and other vulnerable communities from Trump’s attacks. 

Supervisor Dimitrijevic addressed the crowd in fluent Spanish and English, explaining she would introduce a “Trump resistance bill” before the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 25. The resolution affirms the rights of immigrants, the LGBT community, women, people of faith and African Americans and rejects discrimination in all forms.

“We will never be divided,” Dimitrijevic said at the Saturday rally. 

Emmanuel Rios, pastor of the Casa de Restauracion in New Berlin, declared that his parish would become a sanctuary for immigrant families, a safe space where all of its parishioners would feel cared for until Trump stops threatening immigrants.

“We will continue to shout out ‘Si se puede,’ yes we can,” Rios said through an interpreter.

John Holevoet, director of government affairs for the Dairy Business Association, stressed the importance of immigrants to the dairy industry’s $44 billion contribution to the state’s economy. He said he’d continue to explain to policy-makers the real-world impact of labor shortages in Wisconsin’s rural communities, which are filled by immigrants, and the importance of allowing immigrants to obtain driver’s cards to improve safety on the roads.


‘Making America Sick Again’

On Sunday, supporters of the Affordable Care Act gathered to block the Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obama’s signature legislative victory, an event that was replicated across the country.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore, both Democrats, promised they wouldn’t allow Trump and the Republican Congress to “make America sick again,” riffing on Trump’s campaign slogan. 

Moore said that repealing Obamacare would impact those buying insurance on the health care exchange as well as those with private insurance, since costs would increase and plans would be weaker.

“I don’t care who you are, your health care is in jeopardy under this plan,” Moore said. 

Baldwin authored the highly popular Obamacare provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance policy until they are 26, which Republicans voted to repeal last week. The Republicans have offered no plan to replace Obamacare.

On Sunday, Baldwin said the Republicans plan to replace the Affordable Care Act “with chaos.”

“The Republicans own everything and they want to put special interests ahead of the American working people,” Baldwin said. “It’s why so many people are reaching out and calling their elected officials to tell them that we won’t allow Republicans to make America sick again.”

She said Republican elected officials were beginning to waver in their opposition to the Affordable Care Act because of pressure from their constituents. 

Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, called the Republicans’ plan “the greatest bait and switch in history,” since they promised on the campaign trail to lower health care costs and improve access but are now working to take away access and allow costs to skyrocket. 

“They want to set a time bomb and walk away from it,” Kraig said.

The Trump resistance movement will continue with an Inauguration Day protest to be held on Friday, Jan. 20, at 5 p.m. in Red Arrow Park in Downtown Milwaukee, which is organized by the Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump.



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