For immediate release
Contacts: Romeo Sosa 503-381-0848
Paul Riek 503-926-4854
White House Immigration reform bill FURTHER divides the immigrant community
The news that the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House are all working on drafts of an immigration reform bill, is a positive sign for the 11 million people living in this country who constantly face the threat of detention and deportation. But what we know of the drafts is that they propose to legalize only some immigrants—those who have worked for one employer for several years, for example—and that they would require immigrants to wait eight years or more for the chance to obtain residency, and then many years more to become citizens. If these proposals become law, it would mean a huge blow to day laborers across the country who have worked hard to serve the communities they live in.
Alarmingly, the fear of deportation that immigrants currently face may increase with these proposals. To mollify critics on the right, the proposals include provisions to further increase police-ICE collaboration, which would imprison and deport even more immigrants with even less respect for their rights. Other provisions include an expansion of the E-Verify program, forcing all employers nationwide to check on their employees. These measures would further divide families and create harsh divisions and barriers within our neighborhoods instead of creating safer, more equitable communities with full civic participation.
These proposals are being discussed largely without the participation of those most affected: day laborers and other low-wage immigrant workers and their families. Meanwhile, over a thousand immigrants are deported every day—the same people that should be covered by immigration reform. This is negotiation at gunpoint. To allow for a fair, inclusive debate, President Obama must suspend all deportations now, which would allow immigrants breathing room to participate in the debate.
Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project and other day laborer organizations across the country run worker centers, where day laborers find work and gain valuable vocational training in the process. These centers are critical to immigrants who otherwise would be unable to work, feed their families, and pursue the American dream. They also foster equitable interactions between day laborers and their local employers. Voz’ Martin Luther King Jr. Worker Center keeps records of how often and for how long a worker has been seeking work within Portland. Any immigration reform should include a role for these worker centers as vehicles for the implementation of a legalization program.
Voz demands immigration reform that
- Includes a humane path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
- Ends cruel immigration enforcement.
- Protects civil, labor, and human rights.
- Ensures inclusion and protections for future immigrants.
Voz says NO to continued deportations, NO to E-Verify, NO to increased police-ICE collaboration.