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Candlelight Vigils Tuesday In Support Of Refugee Resettlement

Candlelight (Lisa Widerberg FLIKR CC)

Candlelight (Lisa Widerberg FLIKR CC)

Candlelight vigils will be held tomorrow, November 24, outside the offices of U.S. Senators in Manchester, Nashua, and Dover and at Four Corners in Conway to call for New Hampshire’s elected officials to keep our doors open to refugees fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq, and other war-torn areas of the world. 

The vigils, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, will take place from 4:30 PM to 5:45 PM at the following locations:

MANCHESTER – Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s Manchester office at 2 Wall Street, moving to Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office at 1200 Elm Street.  Local contact:  Eva Castillo, (603) 661-2873.

NASHUA – Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office at 60 Main Street, moving to Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office at 144 Main Street.  Local contact:  Sylvia Gale, (603) 557-8417.

DOVER – Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office at 340 Central Avenue.   Local contact: Maggie Fogarty, (603) 988-7115.

CONWAY – Corner of Route 16 and Route 153.  Local contact: Andrea Walsh, (603) 447-2113.

The solemn vigils were motivated by passage last week of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives which adds serious obstacles to the refugee resettlement process, said Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee.  The Senate is expected to vote on a similar measure during the first week of December, she added.  

The vigils will include songs, prayers, and periods of silent reflection.

“Turning our backs on refugees is a betrayal of our nation’s highest values,” said Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. 

Participants have been asked to bring candles and signs with respectful messages welcoming refugees.

Labor Continues Fight for Justice for all Immigrant Working Families

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

A year after the executive action on immigration,
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement:

Today should have been a day of celebration for working families across the nation. Instead, thanks to partisan legal obstructionism of the DAPA and expanded DACA policies, millions of people continue to live and work in fear in our country. Nonetheless, we continue to press forward.

This year working people have been standing together to fight for just wages and fair treatment in communities across the country. Millions of workers of all immigration statuses have been negotiating with a collective voice for a better life; and we have seen how labor unions have embraced the Adelante! We Rise! campaign by opening their halls to empower immigrant working families.  Our movement, including community allies and worker centers, is more energized than ever.

Right now, the Texas AFL-CIO and the Workers Defense Project are holding a three day pilgrimage to Austin to remind the nation that in Texas immigrant families are a vibrant part of the community and that they refuse to remain in the shadows. Our movement has been at the forefront of a wide range of issues related to bettering conditions for workers and their families. Last week the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the National Day Labor Organizing Network and community groups gathered outside Los Angeles’ downtown immigrant detention center to honor all the families that have suffered unnecessary separations as a result of our nation’s broken immigration system. 

The AFL-CIO was pleased to see the Administration file a formal request today for the Supreme Court to hear the case on DAPA and expanded DACA.  We remain deeply committed to ensuring that the promise of these programs to improve the lives of millions of working people is realized, and we intend to make our support clear in the streets, at the polls, and to the Court directly.

Meanwhile, we will press forward in the struggle for equal rights for all working people. Roadblocks test our determination, but we will not rest until families can remain united and all working people are treated with respect and dignity.

Deferred Action Initiatives Headed To Supreme Court

American Immigration Council Urges Prompt Appeal
to the Supreme Court of Flawed Fifth Circuit Decision

Washington D.C. – In a disappointing but unsurprising decision, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the federal government’s appeal of the preliminary injunction that has temporarily stopped President Obama’s latest deferred action initiatives from being implemented. This decision clears the way for the Obama Administration to take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The American Immigration Council urges the Administration to act promptly and seek immediate Supreme Court review. 

The deferred action initiatives, announced almost one year ago, in November 2014, include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Together, these initiatives could provide as many as 5 million immigrants with temporary relief from deportation. The decision today means that the initiatives remain suspended. 

Last November, after decades of congressional neglect, President Obama took a crucial, courageous and practical step toward reforming our immigration system. Using the executive’s well-established authority to regulate immigration and determine enforcement priorities, he adopted policies that would allow millions of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children to remain with their parents, while at the same time ensuring that the government’s limited enforcement resources could be targeted toward real security threats. The Obama Administration should aggressively challenge the opinion in this case that states have standing—or legal authority—to file suit when they disagree with federal immigration policies. This sets a dangerous precedent.

As Judge Carolyn Dineen King, stated succinctly in her dissent, “a mistake has been made.” It now is up to the U.S. Supreme Court to correct this grave mistake—a mistake that sets not only a dangerous precedent, but one that is bad for families, bad for our communities, and bad for the future prosperity of our country. 

This Info-Graphic Dispels The Myth That Immigrants Don’t Pay Taxes

Nevada is a key state in the 2016 election and thanks to Donald Trump insulting immigrants he has pushed immigration reform to one of the top three issues in this election.

Tonight, Democrats will face off in Las Vegas in the first Democratic debate and there is no doubt that immigration will be one of the questions candidates will be forced to discuss.  The American Immigration Council posted this info-graphic about how much immigrants contribute to the Nevada (and US) economy.

From the American Immigration Council

There are few states where the growing political and economic clout of immigrants, Latinos, and Asians is as apparent as in Nevada. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up roughly 1 in 5 Nevadans, and 47.4% of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. Immigrants and the children of immigrants account for just over 20.8% of all registered voters in the state. Immigrants are not only essential to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for billions of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield over $24.9 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $7 billion and employed more than 45,000 people at last count. Immigrant, Latino, and Asian workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs are integral to Nevada’s economy and tax base—and they are an electoral force with which every politician must reckon.

We all know that evicting 11 million aspiring Americans is not feasible but it would also do massive damage to our economy and how we fund our government.

  • “If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Nevada, the state would lose $9.7 billion in economic activity, $4.3 billion in gross state product, and approximately 45,533 jobs.”
  • “Latinos in Nevada paid $1.7 billion in federal taxes and $627 million in state/local taxes in 2013.”

Full details and citations from the AIC are below the image.

Nevada immigrants 2015


Nearly 1 in 5 Nevadans are immigrants.

  • The foreign-born share of Nevada’s population rose from 8.7% in 1990, to 15.8% in 2000, to 19% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nevada was home to 529,164 immigrants in 2013, which greater than the total population of Tucson, Arizona.
  • 47.4% of immigrants in Nevada (or 250,949 people) were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 7.6% of the state’s population (or 210,000 people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 20.8% (or 244,551) of all registered voters in Nevada are “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of large-scale immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data by the American Immigration Council.

Latinos and Asians make up one-third of all Nevadans—and they vote.

  • The Latino share of Nevada’s population grew from 10.4% in 1990, to 19.7% in 2000, to 27.5% (or 767,054 people) in 2013. The Asian share of the population grew from 2.9% in 1990, to 4.5% in 2000, to 7.7% (or 215,121 people) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos comprised 14.9% (or 157,000) of Nevada voters in the 2012 elections, and Asians 6.4% (or 67,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Nevada, 86.8% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 90.6% of children in Asian families in Nevada were U.S. citizens, as were 90.2% of children in Latino families.

Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Nevada’s economy.

  • The 2014 purchasing power of Nevada’s Latinos totaled $15.7 billion—an increase of 1,076% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $9.3 billion—an increase of 1,575% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Immigration boosts housing values in communities. From 2000 to 2010, according to the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, the value added by immigration to the price of the average home was $19,800 in Clark County.
  • Nevada’s 18,035 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $3.2 billion and employed 21,922 peoplein 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 17,542 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $3.8 billion and employed 23,862 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 20,000 new immigrant business owners in Nevada, and they had total net business income of $1.1 billion, which makes up 16.8% of all net business income in the state, according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • In 2010, 20.2% of all business owners in Nevada were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute. In 2013, 25.9% of business owners in the Las Vegas-Paradise metropolitan area were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute and Americas Society/Council of the Americas. Furthermore, 37.4% of “Main Street” business owners—owners of businesses in the retail, accommodation and food services, and neighborhood services sectors—in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area were foreign-born in 2013. 

Immigrants are essential to Nevada’s economy as workers and taxpayers.

  • Immigrants comprised 24.4% of the state’s workforce in 2013 (or 347,008 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos in Nevada paid $1.7 billion in federal taxes and $627 million in state/local taxes in 2013, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. In particular, foreign-born Latinos paid $914 million in federal taxes and $358 million in state/local taxes.
    • The federal tax contribution of Illinois’ Latino population included $1.3 billion to Social Security and $302 million to Medicare in 2013. Foreign-born Latinos contributed $723 million to Social Security and $169 million to Medicare that year.
  • Latino immigrants comprised about 16% of the state’s entire workforce in 2005, and an even higher share in select industries: 81% of the agricultural workforce, 47% of the construction and mining workforce, and 22% of the entertainment and tourist services workforce, according to a 2007 report from the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

Unauthorized immigrants are integral to Nevada’s economy as workers and consumers.

  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 10.2% of the state’s workforce in 2012 (or 150,000 workers), according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Nevada, the state would lose $9.7 billion in economic activity, $4.3 billion in gross state product, and approximately 45,533 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group. 

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Nevada paid $93.9 million in state and local taxes in 2012, according to data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which includes $71.9 million in sales taxes and $22 million in property taxes.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Nevada to have lawful permanent residence, they would pay almost $103.3 millionin state and local taxes, including $79 million in sales taxes and $24.2 million in property taxes.

Immigrants are important to Nevada’s economy as students.

  • Nevada’s 2,336 foreign students contributed over $60 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2013-2014 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
  • Foreign students contribute to Nevada’s metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2012, according to the Brookings Institution, 2,850 foreign students paid $48 million in tuition and $41 million in living costs in the Las Vegas-Paradise metropolitan area.
  • Foreign students also contribute to innovation in Illinois. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 29.1% of master’s degrees and 44.4% of doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. 

Naturalized citizens excel educationally. 

  • In Nevada, 24.7% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 12.2% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 23.5% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 46.7% of noncitizens.
  • The number of immigrants in Nevada with a college degree increased by 140.9% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Nevada, 79.8% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • The English proficiency rate among Asian children in Nevada was 90.6%, while for Latino children it was 81.3%, as of 2009.

The GOP’s Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Is Racist And Un-American

Image by Gage Skidmore

Image by Gage Skidmore

Enough is enough! 

We must stop praising these politicians who trying to win the nomination of the Republican Party by threatening to evict 11 million aspiring Americans and potentially millions more American citizens whose parents are not yet citizens.

It is disgusting, racist and un-American.  

By now you have already seen this video of the pompous asshat Donald Trump forcibly removing one of the nations most respected journalists from his press conference in an attempt to avoid answering questions regarding his immigration policies.

As if the actions of the Trump campaign were not enough, the story does not end there.

After being evicted from the press conference, an unidentified man tells Jorge Ramos (who is an American citizen) to “get out of my country.

Donald Trump is leading the charge against immigrants, specifically latino families by accusing them of being drug dealers & rapists, “and some I presume are good people.” Other GOP wannabe’s are also following Trump’s lead by promoting this idea that we should rescind “birthright citizenship.”  Some of these Presidential candidates are first generation Americans themselves.

I am appalled at what these people are saying about the millions of hard working people who have come to the United States in hope of finding a better life.

We need to fix our broken immigration system and never forget that we are a nation of immigrants.

We need more people like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to speak out against this divisive, racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric that flows from the political right.   Just listen to how President Trumka calls the GOP out for their racist anti-immigrant messaging.

For millions of immigrants the Statue of Liberty was the first thing they saw as they immigrated to the United States.  She was, and still is, the beacon of hope for the millions of aspiring Americans with her immortal words:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

To be anti-immigrant is to be anti-American.

Court Orders Prompt Release of Immigrant Children from Family Detention

 Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

Washington, D.C. – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (Council) welcome a decision released Friday evening by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Flores v. Lynch, No. 85-04544 (C.D.Ca.), which ruled that children should generally be released from deteImmigration Policy Center logontion within five days—preferably to a parent, including a parent with whom they were apprehended. The government must implement the Court’s ruling by October 23, 2015.

“There is no denying that the government has breached the Flores settlement agreement. The status quo is unacceptable, and the government must take immediate and dramatic steps to end family detention,” said Victor Nieblas Pradis, AILA President. “Our CARA Project* staff and volunteers submitted numerous declarations to the Court showing how the government is still detaining accompanied minors in secure, unlicensed facilities. It can no longer hide from the American people the ugly truth of how it treats children fleeing persecution,” said Nieblas. “Just as striking is how the Court condemned the ‘deplorable’ conditions in temporary border jails.  They do not meet even minimal standards for safe and sanitary conditions,” said Nieblas.

“This decision will bolster our efforts to end the inhumane practice of detaining children and their mothers,” according to Melissa Crow, Legal Director of the American Immigration Council. “The Court chastised the government for ‘unnecessarily dragging their feet’ in releasing children from family detention facilities and for repeating the same arguments they had raised in earlier briefing, which she had already rejected. Judge Gee also scoffed at government warnings that the swift release of children and mothers could spur another mass migration of Central American families, characterizing them as ‘speculative at best, and, at worse, fear mongering.’”  Crow added, “Although the Court gives the government some latitude to exceed the five-day limit ‘in the event of an emergency or influx of minors into the United States,’ the decision emphasizes that this should be the exception, not the rule. It’s time for the government to stop making excuses and harming innocent children and their mothers.”

“AILA and the Council will be watching every step the government takes. We expect it to follow this federal court’s order with no less zeal than it did obeying the Texas district court’s DAPA decision,” said Nieblas, referring to the extraordinary efforts the government made to comply with the injunction against the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents process and the planned expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process.

The recent ruling in Flores follows from a July 24, 2015, decision, in which the Court concluded that the government was in violation of the terms of the original Flores settlement, which was intended to ensure the proper care of children in immigration custody. In July, the Court had ordered the government to release children subject to the settlement agreement, but gave the government an opportunity to respond to the Court’s ordered remedy. The government’s response fell far short. 

Governor Walker Would Destroy Immigrant Families To “Follow The Law”

Scott Walker just gave immigrant families a giant middle finger as he told one immigrant family that they need to “follow the law.”

“In November, Obama announced that he would use his executive authority to shield 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation and allow them to legally work in this country. This become known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. Twenty-six states, including Wisconsin, sued, calling the executive action unconstitutional. Such legal action has halted the program.” (Washington Post)

First Governor Walker attempted to avoid answering the question about DAPA and DACA by saying that he is a Governor and don’t deal with it right now, and then tucking his tail between his legs and running for his campaign bus.


Jose Flores (an undocumented immigrant) and his family (US Citizens) finally got the chance to talk to Gov. Walker and he responded.

(VIDEO LINK: https://youtu.be/hGRUjXlQ8QE)

“My point is that you have to follow the law, follow the process,” Walker told Flores. “No man or woman is above the law in this country — that’s the beauty of America.”

Walker also promoted his idea or building a giant wall, tossing 11 million aspiring Americans out of the country, and letting the next President and Congress fix the immigration laws.

Walker claims that the President was not able to get immigration reform through Congress but didn’t. We all know that immigration reforms have been held up in the US House and have failed to even get a vote from the Republican leadership.

President Obama took Executive Action because Republicans refused to pass an immigration reform bill. His actions only delayed deportation for some immigrant families but has not solved the problem that immigrants are still being forced to wait years and years to gain citizenship. Many of these 11 million aspiring Americans have been waiting for a decade or more trying to become citizens. The process is broken and millions of aspiring Americans are hiding in the shadows while they wait for their chance to become US citizens.

Throughout our great history, welcoming immigrants has been a large part of who we are as Americans.

We are a nation of immigrants, so why is Governor Walker saying that these brown skinned immigrants are not welcome here anymore?


United States Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Deportation

Immigration Policy Center logoWashington D.C. – After more than two years of litigation, the U.S. government has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Leonel Ruiz on behalf of his minor daughter, E.R. The suit alleged that in 2011, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), unlawfully detained Mr. Ruiz’s then 4-year-old daughter—a U.S. citizen—when she arrived at Dulles Airport in Virginia, deprived her of any contact with her parents, and sent her back to Guatemala rather than allowing her to join her parents, who awaited her arrival in New York.

According to the complaint, during the twenty hours E.R. was detained in CBP custody with her grandfather, she was given nothing to eat other than a cookie and soda and nowhere to nap other than the cold floor. She was finally able to return home to the United States nearly three weeks later, but only after her father hired a local attorney to fly to Guatemala to retrieve her. Once home, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by a child psychologist, who concluded that this was a result of her detention and her separation from her parents. The lawsuit, filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), sought damages for the harm E.R. suffered as a result of this ordeal. In June, the government agreed to pay E.R. $32,500.

On October 30, 2013, the government moved to dismiss the case, arguing that, among other things, the actions of the CBP officers fell within the “discretionary function exception” to the FTCA, which bars certain claims involving an element of judgment or choice. The court rejected this argument, finding that, taking the allegations in the complaint as true, there were no “discernible social, economic, or political policy considerations in the regulatory or statutory regime that would explain the CBP Officers’ decisions” while E.R. was held in Dulles’ secondary inspection area. Thus, the judgment was not the kind of discretionary function that the exception was designed to protect. The court also found that CBP’s alleged treatment of E.R. violated the settlement agreement in Flores v. Reno regarding the detention of minors, as well as CBP’s internal policies developed to comply with the Flores agreement. 

“This settlement is a fair and just one,” said Melissa Crow of the American Immigration Council, one of E.R.’s pro bono attorneys. “We hope that the government has learned from this case and that, in the future, CBP will take steps to ensure that other children do not endure similarly harrowing experiences.”

“Mr. Ruiz’s greatest concern has always been that what happened to his daughter should never happen again” said Matthew Gurgel of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, also pro bono counsel to E.R. “E.R. is a U.S. citizen and has constitutional rights to travel to the United States and to be free from unreasonable detention, and what happened to her should not have happened to any child.”

“With ever-increasing numbers of U.S.-born children of mixed-status families, this will continue to be a problem unless CBP formally trains its officers on how to better handle issues around returning U.S. citizen children,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, director of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Project, which also provided pro bono representation to E.R. “CBP’s role is to facilitate lawful entries into the United States, not to throw up barriers and roadblocks.”   

Divided Fifth Circuit Denies Emergency Stay as Underlying Case on Immigration Action Proceeds

 Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR) 

Washington D.C. – In a disappointing decision, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the federal government’s request for an emergency stay of a preliminary injunction that has temporarily stopped President Obama’s deferred action initiatives from being implemented.

The court’s order keeps in place the hold on implementation of these initiatives while the Fifth Circuit considers the appeal of the preliminary injunction itself. The Fifth Circuit will hear argument on the appeal in early July. The deferred action initiatives, announced last November, include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and could provide as many as 4 to 5 million immigrants with a temporary relief from deportation.

In the meantime, the underlying case is pending in the district court in Brownsville, TX before Judge Andrew Hanen. The case is still in the early stages of discovery.

A similar suit challenging the President’s actions filed by Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was dismissed by a Washington, D.C., federal court at the end of last year. It is currently on appeal before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Immigration Policy Center logoThe following is a statement by Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council:

“Today’s 2-1 decision is indefensible, and we remain confident that the majority’s legal reasoning will not stand. The federal courts have long recognized that the Executive Branch has authority to set enforcement priorities, that is, to exercise prosecutorial discretion, just like all other law enforcement agencies. In fact, since at least 1956, every U.S. President has granted temporary immigration relief from deportation.

“Judge Stephen A. Higginson, in his dissent, got it right when he called out the ‘political nature of this dispute’ and argued that the courts have no role to play here. The courts simply cannot be a venue for anyone who disagrees with a President’s policy choice. The district court in Washington, D.C., understood this when it promptly dismissed Sheriff Arpaio’s similar suit challenging DACA and DAPA. To create a precedent that would allow state politicians to challenge a federal immigration decision they disagreed with, based on the fact that they might have to issue a driver’s license to the beneficiary of that policy, is absurd and unworkable.

“Every day that DAPA and expanded DACA implementation is delayed is a day in which families are forced to live in uncertainty and under the constant threat of possible deportation. Delaying implementation also means delaying substantial economic benefits to our country. The overwhelming weight of the evidence clearly indicates that DAPA and expanded DACA will increase Gross Domestic Product, reduce the federal deficit, and raise both tax revenue and average wages.

“Finally, today’s decision serves as reminder that broader, permanent reform is needed. Congress must do its job to enact immigration legislation that provides undocumented immigrants a full and meaningful shot at citizenship, helps the United States grow its economic prosperity, and reflects our proud history as a nation of immigrants.”

Labor Leaders, Workers, and Community Leaders Stand in Support of Immigrant Workers’ Rights and Executive Actions

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography, May 2014)

On the eve of what should have been a historic expansion of deferred action to millions of workers, the labor movement continues pressing for immigrant workersprotections

(Washington, DC) – At an event today, labor leaders, workers and community activists sent a clear and loud message: the labor movement will continue pushing forward with its efforts to build worker power for immigrants and will not wait for Congress, the courts, or the elections to act.  The event took place a day before the expansion of deferred action was scheduled to start, granting millions of workers the opportunity to live and work without fear.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre was joined by UFCW Executive Vice President Esther Lopez, BAC President Jim Boland, NDLON Director of Legislative Affairs Salvador Sarmiento, and immigrant workers who are members of UNITE HERE and the Ironworkers unions together vowed to defend the new deferred action programs and continue pushing for immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship, while raising grave concerns about enforcement programs that undermine workers’ rights and destroy communities.

“Far from paralyzing us, the current legal injunction of the deferred action programs further highlight something that we in the labor movement know very well: that organizing is the only real force that moves our country forward,” said Gebre.

The three labor leaders pledged to keep pushing forward with the AFL-CIO’s We Rise! (¡Adelante!) national immigration implementation initiative. Gebre, Lopez and Boland announced that despite judicial roadblocks, labor unions across the country have opened their halls and successfully empowered immigrant workers through immigration and citizenship services; education and training; and organizing around campaigns to advance immigrant and workers’ rights.

“Tomorrow should have started a process where undocumented workers could apply for legal rights and some peace of mind,” said Lopez. “It was about taking a step forward, however modest, in the fight to fix our broken immigration system. But instead DAPA remains in limbo. And for that we say to the politicians who have held it up—shame on you. We know the lawsuit is a political stunt—an effort to scare away immigrant workers from applying for DAPA. The best way to fight back is to continue getting ready for this program. So that is exactly what we are doing. When the legal ruling finally comes down, UFCW members will either be ready to file for DAPA or fight for it.”

Carlos Castillo, an immigrant worker, who works as a day laborer and who representsTrabajadores Unidos de DC (United Workers of DC), took the stage to speak on the necessity of implementing the deferred action program so immigrants can get long overdue protections in the workplace.

“Tomorrow was to be a day of hope for people like me and for many families, but politicians have chosen to continue playing games with our lives. It’s clear now, we can no longer wait for justice from the courts and instead we must turn to each other as we organize ourselves on the job and in our communities to continue this fight for our rights,” said Castillo.

Jim Boland, who also is chair of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council Immigration Committee, stated that his union will continue pressing forward to support deferred action programs to empower hardworking immigrant workers.

“As a former immigrant worker myself, now a U.S. citizen, I am proud to stand with my union brothers and sisters and millions of hard-working immigrant workers in our ongoing struggle to secure legal status for all eligible workers now under the provisions of DACA and DAPA,” said Boland. “Labor, worker and community advocates will not be deterred from helping to expand opportunity for the nation’s most vulnerable workers. It’s unconscionable for a country that prides itself on being a ‘nation of immigrants’ – we can and will find a better way forward.”

Speakers called upon officials in all levels and branches of government to continue to do more to protect immigrant workers against retaliation.  They demanded transparency in implementation of the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) and asked the administration to use its enforcement discretion to protect workers brave enough to raise concerns about unsafe conditions, unpaid wages, and abusive treatment.

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