Five ways to defend immigrant members

For unions that don’t have many immigrant members, joining an existing network is a concrete way to support immigrant workers in your community. Do you know what groups are organizing around immigration in your community? Can you build relationships and support their work? For those that do, when leaders are detained or facing deportation, unions and worker centers may have to respond quickly. What alliances could your union start building now, so that you are ready if you need to defend targeted members? A citywide rapid-response network supported the workplace actions in Chicago by turning out supporters for pickets and direct actions. In other communities, such networks can provide expert support in case of workplace or community raids. The National Immigration Law Center has tips on how to develop a rapid-response team by recruiting community leaders and immigration attorneys in advance of potential raids. The worker center Desis Rising Up and Moving launched a local Hate Free Zone. A thousand people marched through the streets of Jackson Heights, Queens, December 2, to show their support. “The message was ‘we want to make sure our community is safe, and people know it’s safe and are actively going to be protecting each other,” says Basma Eid, an organizer with the national worker center alliance Enlace. Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Labor Coalition for Latin American Advancement has been leading a fight to free a local labor leader, Martin Esquivel-Hernandez, detained in a for-profit prison on immigration charges. A hundred community allies marched on November 15 to demand his release. Migrant Justice in Vermont has also mobilized community support to free several farmworker leaders who were held in detention.

Sonia Singh in Five Ways to Defend Immigrant Members (Labornotes)