UNITE HERE announced that during the week of March 5-9 the union will launch a series of actions to support immigrant workers in danger of having their DACA or TPS protections revoked.
“With the fates of hundreds of thousands of DACA and TPS holders remaining uncertain, . . . UNITE HERE is running major internal member education campaigns for DACA holders and is organizing externally against Trump’s racist immigration policies,” said the union in a statement about this week’s activities.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an executive order issued by President Obama. It allows immigrants who came to the US as children with their parents to work, study, and live without fear of deportation.
Last year, President Trump revoked DACA, and March 5 was supposed to be the day that DACA protections expired, but President’s Trump’s revocation has been suspended while courts review his action.
More than 800,000 people who have lived in the US most of their lives are protected by DACA.
“America has been my home since I immigrated here at 12 years ago,” said Celica Valdez, a UNITE HERE member from Monterey, California. “DACA allowed me to come out of the shadows and provide for my family. I’m a single mother, and my family depends on my union job as a hotel worker at Hyatt. If Trump wins with taking away my work authorization, my family would be destroyed.”
TPS, or Temporary Protected Status, has been in effect since 1990. It gives protected status to immigrants fleeing political violence, repression, war, or natural disasters.
It has allowed more than 300,000 immigrants who can’t live in safety in their own countries to do so in the US.
During the Trump administration 250,000 immigrant workers with TPS status from El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua have had their TPS terminated and been ordered to leave the US by 2019.
UNITE HERE has 270,000 members, many of whom work in the hospitality industry. According to the union, tens of thousands of our members are immigrant workers, some of whom are affected by President Trump’s DACA and TPS decisions.
UNITE HERE on March 5 began its week of mobilization in Washington DC by joining SEIU, another union with a large contingent of immigrant members, in supporting immigrant rights activists, who demonstrated near the Capitol to demand that DACA protections be extended.
At the Capitol complex, 87 people were arrested for committing non-violent acts of civil disobedience.
The next day, UNITE HERE Local 23 members in Indianapolis, Indiana joined a demonstration in downtown Indianapolis demanding that the state’s two US senators–Joe Donnelly and Todd Young–support legislation that would make DACA permanent.
The demonstration was organized by Faith in Indiana, a faith community action group that advocates for economic and racial justice
Speaking to the demonstrators, Rev. Steve Carlsen, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, an Indianapolis Episcopalian church, criticized Indiana’s two US senators, Joe Donnelly and Sen. Todd Hunter, for voting in favor of a budget that continues to fund the government’s “massive deportation machine.”
Demonstrators locked arms and formed a human chain through downtown Indianapolis connecting the local offices of Sen. Donnelly and Sen. Young.
Twenty-three people, including at least one member of Local 23, were arrested when they refused police orders to disperse.
In Honolulu, UNITE HERE Local 5 got an early start on the union’s week of action by holding an immigrant citizenship application fair on March 3 and 4.
The union trained 150 union and community volunteers to help eligible immigrants to apply for citizenship.
“The historic citizenship action is one of the largest in UNITE HERE international’s history, and resulted in 10 times the citizenship applications than the next largest citizenship fair in Hawaii’s history,” reported the union.
UNITE HERE said that it plans other action this week.
UNITE HERE members will be lobbying Congress to support proposals that will extend DACA and TPS protections denied by the Trump administration and will be conducting internal organizing forums to educate members about the current status of DACA and TPS.
“This week will also see UNITE HERE affiliates in swing states such as Pennsylvania and Nevada and as far flung as Indiana to New Jersey mobilizing in-state for a range of activities,” said the union.