Earlier this month, thousands of construction workers, painters and others took to the street of Philadelphia to link immigrant rights to worker rights. The rally also attempted to present a new day for worker and immigrant rights by rejecting President Donald Trump’s efforts to divide labor along ethnic lines.
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, along with labor leaders, workers, activists and faith leaders, gathered at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. The rally was also co-sponsored by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, IUPAT District Council 21, AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO Latino, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, ASFCME, UNITE HERE!, UNITE HERE Local 54, UNITE HERE Philadelphia, SEIU 32BJ and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
“Putting fear and terror of intimidation into the very fabric of immigrant lives through televised ICE raids and family separations is nothing less than psychological warfare, waged on working families in order to silence whistleblowers in a broken labor system designed to drive down wages, break unions and increase profits,” said Ken Rigmaiden, general president of IUPAT and the first African-American to lead a national building trades union, during a speech to rally attending.
During the rally, labor leaders, workers, advocates and children called for an end to family separation and said labor’s committed to standing up for all workers regardless of status.
Twelve-year-old Ashley Téllez, a youth leader for the immigrant rights organization Juntos, joined Rigmaiden at the podium and told the crowd that she feared her undocumented mother could be deported at any moment, leaving her and her sister to fend for themselves.
“Every day I fear that my mom may not come home,” said Téllez. “Every day I am scared that Trump’s cruel policies could continue to separate my family. I cannot imagine a world without both my parents, so I say that all families deserve to be together. No one should fear being torn away from their parent!”
In the spring of 2017, IUPAT ran a national campaign to win the release of member Hugo Mejia Murguia after he was detained in May 2017. The campaign led to authorities eventually releasing Murguia to his family while his asylum petition was being heard. Union officials have also spoken out against the way the Trump administration has dealt with Temporary Protected Status as well. Other faith-based organizations have taken their fight to the nation’s capital to fight the potential appointment of a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
Faith in Action, the largest faith-based organizing network in the U.S., blasted the Senate’s decision to move forward with confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, despite the fact that U.S. Senators have not received all of Kavanaugh’s records to scrutinize any potential biases in regards to civil rights, including immigrants’ rights.
“Our rights and our freedom hang in the balance of the Senate’s vote on Judge Kavanaugh, whether it is immigrants’ rights, voting rights, criminal justice reform, or access to affordable health care,” said Faith in Action Executive Director the Rev. Alvin Herring in a statement.