For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Contact: Viridiana Vidal, firstname.lastname@example.org
(NY/LA) Following publication of a new memo by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security setting forth a new direction for worksite immigration enforcement, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), its member & partner organizations, and others formally announced today the launch of a new BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION (BRC) to provide input on, guidance for, and evaluation of the new policy and priorities currently under development in the next sixty days.
Initially comprised of immigrant workers and members of immigrant worker-led organizations, the BRC will host listening sessions, offer specific recommendations, and methods of measuring whether the new policy achieves its stated objectives. Moreover, it will serve to foster collaboration among various stakeholders with the most to gain or lose from the new policy’s success or failure, it will encourage a whole-of-government approach from the Biden Administration, and it will work to ensure policy developments get the attention they deserve.
Blue Ribbon Commission Members and Statements:
Nadia Marin Molina, co-executive director at NDLON, a former member of the Biden Transition Team for the Department of Labor, and member of the BRC stated:
“Immigrant workers themselves are among the foremost experts on the failure of status quo immigration and labor enforcement policy. Their bottom-up organizing, endurance, and advocacy resulted in the release of this memo, and we must now ensure their perspective is included at every step of the process going forward. The policy shift forecasted yesterday was long overdue, and it makes good and necessary promises to reverse the criminalization of immigrant work, but it will only be successful if it is not diluted by a reversion to familiar Beltway processes that occlude the voices of immigrants and working people.
“To be clear, the need to crack down on predatory employers is something that everyone can agree on, and it can offer the basis for a new consensus that spans across party affiliation and socioeconomic status, but this policy will only be a success if it uplifts immigrant, working families along the way. That must start, right from the beginning, by empowering those who were victimized by unjust enforcement to be part of the solution. With the BRC at the table, we will make this happen.”
Sylvia Garcia, public health promoter for the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity (IAJE of MS) based in Jackson, Mississippi, whose family was impacted by ICE’s 2019 workplace raids, and member of the BRC, stated:
“With respect to the memo, it is good, but I must ask – what happens to the people that were detained by ICE in the raids that occurred in August of 2019? What happens to them? Like my husband, there are many more that were victims of workplace abuse that need to be addressed by the Labor Department. Many of them – today- are still separated from their families, still in detention, still forgotten. That is why we are calling for deferred action for all the workers that were victims here in Mississippi. There must be action, for them, and their children, who all suffered this traumatic separation from their families, from what can only be described as a cruel and ruthless violation of our most basic rights as human beings.”
Rosario Ortiz, a worker in Las Vegas, member of the Arriba Las Vegas Workers Center, and BRC member, an active leader in the past several months denouncing rampant abuse by his former employer and calling for US Labor and DHS to provide protection against deportation and work authorization, stated:
“This important first step happened because we – workers – have spoken out and demanded action, the path forward will be no different. We must keep the pressure up to ensure that these are not just promises, but become a reality. Secretary Mayorkas’ memo pledges to focus on abusive employers and not in persecuting working people, let’s make sure these are not just words and promises, we have to make them real. And we can celebrate when we have work authorization in hand.”
Hermelinda Gutierrez, a building cleaner in New Haven, Connecticut, member of Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA CT) and BRC member, fired after she organized with her co-workers to demand safe working conditions during the pandemic, and member of the BRC stated:
“If you accept our labor, respect our humanity. Many times we worked without being given the necessary protective equipment, and worse still, this company would rob us of our wages. Throughout the pandemic, this exploitation of our labor has been a daily occurrence. For so many of us, all we could do was to keep quiet, because during these critical times we could not risk to lose our jobs.”
Yeni Linares, day laborer, domestic worker, and member of the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC) who has been a community leader calling for workers rights and legal status, and member of the BRC stated:
“This Summer, we marched from the Department of Labor to the White House with a message- we know that you have the power to protect workers and put an end to the crisis of abuse we are facing – and it’s time you do it. In the middle of the pandemic, we day laborers have been essential workers and now it is time that you take action so that we can work freely, without threats, and with a permanent legal status. We cannot keep waiting, it’s time for action now.”
Ana Manzanarez, lead for community pollera (poultry plant) committees with GA Familias Unidas (GAFU) in Gainesville, Georgia, a community where 6 workers died from a chemical leak in a poultry factory, and a member of the BRC, stated:
“Since settling here in Gainesville I have lived and seen workplace injustice on a daily basis. I feel like yesterday’s DHS announcement will finally call on the Department of Labor to give a voice to many of my voiceless neighbors. Our work matters and we feed the whole country. Every job you can find in polleras here doesn’t even give you time to go to the restroom, it’s time to do something about it.”
Oscar Londoño, Executive Director of WeCount!, an immigrant workers’ center in Florida, and member of the BRC, stated:
“For years, immigrant workers in Florida have been on the frontlines of labor enforcement, courageously speaking up – for themselves and for others – to report wage theft, discrimination, labor trafficking, and dangerous workplaces. But time and time again, abusive employers have used the threat of our nation’s immigration enforcement system to silence, intimidate, and exploit with absolute impunity.
“Secretary Mayorkas’s Worksite Enforcement Memo is a step in the right direction, but we need action, not just words. DHS must use every tool available to cease deportations, expand relief, and protect workers’ rights for all.”
Day laborer centers nationwide have called on President Biden, Labor Secretary Walsh and DHS Secretary Mayorkas to take action to address the rampant crisis of abuses facing undocumented workers across the U.S. Most recently, workers gathered at an assembly of excluded workers assembly of excluded workers followed by a rally and marchrally and march in Washington, DC.