'Day Without Latinos' rally today at Capitol - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

'Day Without Latinos' rally brings thousands to Capitol

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UPDATE (WKOW) -- It was an historic day for the Wisconsin Latino community. 

Madison Police now estimate 20,000 people were at the rally in Madison Thursday.

At one point Capitol Police spoke about the Rotunda being 'at capacity' as more protesters moved inside.

"We were excited to come here and help our people," High School Senior Jorge Jucman from the Dells said.  He isn't the only one wanting to have a voice.

"We have families here, we want to live the American dream," Jucman said.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says crowds grew quickly over the 5 to 7,000 expected.

"We probably have an additional 45 police, but this group has been making it so easy so far it's making our job a piece of cake," Chief Koval said.

The Group's Voces De La Frontera made uses of every inch of the Capitol.

"We are super happy to see this, honestly we didn't expect it to get this big," Spokesman Mario Garcia Sierra said.

"The restaurants are closed today, the dairy farms are having issues milking their cows, the hotels they are worried about their workers,"Garcia Sierra added.

It's estimated half of those that showed up were undocumented and for the first time, felt welcome in front of the Capitol.


MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Latest on a rally at the Wisconsin Capitol by Latinos and immigrants against a pair of bills they say are divisive (all times local):
   11:45 a.m.
   A pair of teenagers from Beloit are among the estimated thousands of people rallying at the Capitol in Madison over legislation seen as aimed at immigrants.
   They're upset by a pair of Republican bills. One would block cities from keeping police officers from asking a person's immigration status. The other would keep cities and counties from issuing local IDs.
   Isaac Flores and Catalina Servin arrived at Thursday's rally on a bus. They said they had the support of administrators at Beloit Memorial High School to attend.
   The 16-year-old Flores carried a sign that said "Wisconsin no es Arizona," a reference to the southwestern state's own struggles with the immigration issue. He said his family is of Mexican heritage and he doesn't think it's right to pass such laws.
   Another protester, 33-year-old Juan Gonzalez, says he was born and raised in Madison but his parents are from Mexico. He said the bill about police asking immigration status is "messed up."
   11:30 a.m.
   Police in Madison estimate that a protest at the state Capitol by Latinos and immigrant groups has drawn a crowd in the thousands.
   Police spokesman Joel DeSpain gave the estimate.
   The protesters were calling it "A day without Latinos and immigrants in Wisconsin." They are upset by a pair of Republican bills. One forbids cities from blocking police from asking a person about their immigration status. Another blocks municipalities from issuing local IDs.
   Roads leading to the Capitol were heavy with traffic and Mexican flags dotted the crowd. Inside the Capitol, hundreds of people packed the rotunda and surrounding floors as the Assembly session began, banging on cymbals and chanting "si se puede," or "yes we can."
   11:10 a.m.
   Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature are defending bills that have prompted a large demonstration at the Capitol by Latinos and immigrant groups.
   Rep. John Spiros is a Marshfield Republican who authored a so-called sanctuary cities bill. It would bar local governments from prohibiting police from asking a person about their immigration status or working with federal immigration authorities.
   Spiros says Latinos are not being told the truth about the bill. He says it doesn't mean police can pull people over to check their immigration status. He says that can be done only if they are arrested.
   Protesters have also criticized a GOP bill that would block towns and counties from issuing IDs. They say it's anti-immigrant and aimed at a recent Milwaukee city and county plan to help get local IDs to people who have had trouble getting other government-issued IDs.
   Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says anyone can get a free state ID card and so there's no need for municipalities to issue their own.
   10:30 a.m.
   Hundreds of Latinos and immigrants from around the state are demonstrating outside the Capitol in Madison against state legislation they say is divisive.
   The demonstrators are chanting and holding signs on the square outside the Capitol Thursday morning where temperatures are below freezing. One sign reads "All We Want is Equity."
   The groups oppose an Assembly bill that they say would lead police to investigate a person's immigration status and detain people for deportation. They say a proposed Senate bill would block counties from issuing local identification cards to people who don't have access to a state ID.
   The Wisconsin Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and other organizations expect factories, dairy farms, fast food restaurants and hotels will be impacted because the workers are off the job during the demonstration.

MADISON (WKOW) -- Even if you're not planning on attending the Day Without Latinos rally in downtown today, you may still be affected by it. 

Thousands are expected to be protesting on the Capitol Square this morning, voicing their concern about two bills in the state legislature. 

People heading into downtown may notice some difference in traffic patterns and might want to consider allowing some extra time for delays.  Traffic heading towards the Capitol on E. Washington Ave. will be down to one lane.  Also, Madison Metro Buses that have stops near the Capitol will be dropping off and picking up on the outer loop. 

A variety of businesses including some restaurants, coffee shops, tattoo parlors, daycares, nail salons, law firms and more in southern Wisconsin will close, so their employees can attend the rally.  Some people are even coming by bus from Milwaukee. 

The protesters will be rallying against Assembly Bill 450, which would ban sanctuary cities for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, and Senate Bill 533, which would stall Milwaukee's efforts to provide local photo IDs for people who have a hard time getting state IDs, like illegal immigrants. 

The rally begins at 10:00 a.m. on the State Street side of the Capitol Square. 

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