WisconsinWeekly: While Trump wants wall, these farmers build bridges

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Midwest farmers form bonds with workers; U.S. combats labor exploitation; Proud Boys still fighting; former top Scott Walker aides speak out; WI in middle of Trump trade war

This week we point you to the Center’s latest story about immigrants working in Wisconsin’s dairy industry. In this installment, we feature a program in which farmers travel to Mexico to meet their workers’ families and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire nursing students care for the workers. The goal is to increase understanding on both sides of the border and to humanize the people who risk arrest — or worse — to work in America’s Dairyland. Farmer John Rosenow told our reporter, Madeline Heim: “One of the things I hear so often from the current president is, ‘They’re not sending us their best.’ I’ve been to those villages where our guys are from — and they sent us their best. They sent us the leaders of their communities, they sent us a lawyer, they sent us a medical student … they have great work ethic, they’re honest — people you’d love to have as a neighbor.”

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Dee and Andy Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Dee is the managing editor and Andy is the executive director.

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As Trump disparages immigrants, Midwest dairy farmers build bridges to Mexico

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism — October 16, 2018

In this collaboration with HuffPost, the Center’s Madeline Heim explains how Puentes/Bridges, a small nonprofit organization, has helped Wisconsin and Minnesota farmers travel to Mexico to meet their workers’ families, bridging the cultural gap between farmers and their employees — and the physical gap between the workers and their families. Immigrants now make up an estimated 51 percent of all dairy workers in the United States, and many are undocumented, making trips back and forth across the border dangerous.

U.S. Department of Labor to work with Fox Valley restaurants to comply with labor laws

Oshkosh Northwestern — October 15, 2018

On October 7, we published a joint investigation with the Chicago Sun-Times exposing labor trafficking from Chicago employment agencies to Asian restaurants across the Midwest. Three days later, a federal court judge approved a consent decree requiring one of the accused employment agencies to shut down. And earlier this week, the Oshkosh Northwestern reported that federal regulators with the U.S. Department of Labor are “working with restaurants in the Fox Valley and Milwaukee to help them comply with federal wage laws.”

Proud Boys founder: How he went from Brooklyn hipster to far-right provocateur

The New York Times — October 16, 2018

The Proud Boys have become as notorious for their willingness to “finish a fight” as for their controversial rhetoric. Another fight broke out last Friday after the far-right group’s founder, Gavin McInnes, spoke at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Republican Club. The New York Times reports that the Deborah Coughlin, the club’s president, said she considered McInnes’ views to be on the spectrum of “civil discourse,” but former club President William F. B. O’Reilly said of the Proud Boys, “The Republican brand doesn’t need this. It’s already got enough problems.” Previously from WCIJ: Controversial Proud Boys embrace ‘Western values,’ reject feminism and political correctness

Fourth former Scott Walker secretary comes forward to criticize governor

Wisconsin State Journal — October 18, 2018

Paul Jadin, the first CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., has become the fourth of Gov. Scott Walker’s former cabinet secretaries to come out publicly against the governor. Jadin resigned as head of the Madison Region Economic Partnership on Wednesday and promptly joined two other former secretaries in signing an open letter criticizing Walker and endorsing Tony Evers, his Democratic opponent. The trio said Walker and his team “simply did everything in their power to avoid transparency in his decision-making process so they could not be held to account.” Previously from WCIJ: Former cabinet members: Top Scott Walker aide ordered them to avoid state email, phones

On the trade war frontline

BBC World Service — October 6, 2018

The BBC’s Jonty Bloom leads an audio tour of Wisconsin farms and manufacturers to report on “how just one American state is dealing with the turbulence of global trade wars.” Stops include a ginseng farm exporting to China, a vegetable processor dependent on steel equipment, the Harley-Davidson factory and the future site of Foxconn. “For President Trump, trade and trade wars are simple,” concludes Bloom, “but the fact is neither is the case… A simple drive through Wisconsin — with its nervous businesses and rampant consumerism — would prove all that in a few hours, but it’s a trip President Trump is not likely to make.”

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