Immigrant Workers Launch Own Platform for Immigration Reform
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 08:14 PM EST
Hundreds of Workers Arrive in DC to Raise Voice for Full Inclusion, Relief, Labor Rights
Tonight, after a day-long national strategy session, more than 250 immigrant workers and civil and labor rights leaders gathered to watch President Obama’s State of the Union address—and launch their own demands to stop deportations and achieve just and inclusive citizenship with strong labor protections for all 11 million immigrants in any reform.
The group of workers has traveled to D.C. to kick off efforts nationwide to ensure that immigrant workers themselves shape immigration reform and are fully included in the policy debate. Their own platform for immigration reform includes an inclusive path to citizenship, an immediate end to deportations, and strong defense of workers’ labor, employment, and civil rights, including the right to organize and protections against cruel employer retaliation through the adoption of policies in the POWER Act. See the full principles here: http://bit.ly/XyBcu9
“As the latest push for immigration reform begins in earnest in Washington, the real faces of this issue are going to make themselves heard,” says Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice. “Immigrants who work in our country and contribute to our economy every day are coming to Capitol Hill to ensure that any discussion on immigration reform advances their needs and rights on the job. Workers’ rights advocates will be supporting their efforts knowing that we can’t afford any immigration policies that drag workplace standards down and create any more inequity in our economy.”
“After so many speeches and promises, its time for the President to give meaning to his speech tonight with concrete action to address the suffering caused by deportations,” explains Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “The first step on the path to citizenship is a suspension of deportations. We want to see the President that sets an example for Congress and includes all 11 million – engineers and day laborers alike.”
"President Obama said it best in Nevada: immigration is about people, not policies. Today while he delivers the State of the Union, workers across the country are setting out to win full and first class citizenship. That means a path to citizenship for all the 11 million, and an end to exploitation in guestworker programs." - Saket Soni, Executive Director, National Guestworker Alliance
"We’ve been waiting too long for this opportunity,” says Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance. “We want to win citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants. That’s why we are organizing domestic workers and other immigrant workers to push for an inclusive road to citizenship that protects workers and keeps families together."
On February 13th, workers will attend the first Senate hearing on immigration; meet with Administration officials; lobby with staff of Judiciary committee members, Senate leadership, and House caucuses; share their stories at an event with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-4); and will rally on the Hill.
Many of the 250+ workers are currently in deportation proceedings, such as Chicago Pallet Factory workers and the Southern 32, a group of immigrant labor organizers and civil rights defenders. They include day laborers, guestworkers who exposed forced labor in Louisiana, reconstruction workers from post-Sandy New York, raided factory workers from Chicago, Palermo pizza workers from Wisconsin, and domestic workers from around the country.
These workers are being brought together by the United Workers Congress (UWC), an alliance of workers that are by law or by practice excluded from the right to organize in the United States. UWC is a project of Unity, an alliance of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Jobs with Justice, National Day Labor Organizing Network, National Domestic Worker Alliance, National Guestworker Alliance, and Right to the City Alliance.