Threats to Workers: Mass Deportations
Since the Presidential Election, our Local and in fact, all of Labor, has been focusing on threats from the federal government to undermine workers’ rights, including National Right-to-Work legislation.
But perhaps the most serious threat to workers in our community comes from the potential mass deportations of our sisters and brothers.
Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to round up and deport 11 million undocumented people. He has now issued two executive orders paving the way to put that plan into action.
In San Diego County alone, estimates are that 250,000 people in our community are without documentation.
This means that in a union the size of UFCW Local 135, we have our own members who are under threat or who are living with the fear that parents, children and our neighbors could at any moment be taken away from us.
We have already seen examples of mothers and fathers being detained and deported, separating them from their children. Fearful parents are signing papers for friends or clergy to care for their children in case they are deported.
The threat to our working families is particularly serious in a border community like San Diego because federal immigration agents are allowed extraordinary power within 100 miles of the border – this includes our entire jurisdiction in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
This includes the power to question and detain people in their cars, on public transportation and at work – without a warrant.
What can we do to protect ourselves and our coworkers? The first step is to become familiar with your rights.
Last week UFCW Local 135 staff participated in a training session run by the California Labor Federation and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. This training provided important information on understanding the rights that we all have.
Our local will follow up with similar know your rights workshops for our members and the community including turning out attorneys who can provide individual counseling.
Secondly, we need to work together with our sisters and brothers throughout the labor movement to advance state policy that protects workers here in our community. We will bring our voice in support of efforts to declare our local cities and school districts as sanctuaries – meaning local government agencies will in no way cooperate with the Trump Administration to deport our families.
At the state level we strongly support legislation authored by local legislative champions such as State Senator Ben Hueso (who is authoring a bill to provide state funding for immigration attorneys for individuals who face deportation) and State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who is authoring legislation to protect our veterans from deportation.
The highest priority bill in Sacramento is SB54, the California Values Act, authored by Senate Pro Tempore and San Diego native, Kevin de León. This bill will prevent the use of state and local resources for federal immigration enforcement actions that will separate families and hurt the state’s economy.
Finally, in addition to knowing our rights as individuals and advocating for policies at the state and local levels, we must stand up as part of a mass movement to demonstrate that an attack on any workers is an attack on all of us.
Our local is part of a coalition of labor and community partners that is planning a mass action on Monday, May 1. We hope to have thousands of people march in Downtown San Diego as a show of strength to both the Trump Administration and to each other.
Look for communication from the local over the next few weeks about how you can participate in these efforts.