The following statement is attributable to 32BJ SEIU Vice President Jaime Contreras. The overwhelming majority of 32BJ’s 18,000 property service workers in the D.C. Metropolitan Area and Baltimore are immigrants from Central and South America.
The deportation of Liliana Cruz Mendez is not only unprincipled and unnecessary but it’s completely un-American. As one of the largest immigrant workers unions in the country, we condemn these counterproductive actions, which disrupt lives, tear apart families and wrongly punish hard-working people, while forcing all immigrants – documented or not – to live in constant fear. Instead of these harsh tactics, the government should focus on fixing our broken immigration system. We must bring our immigration system into line with our economic interests and humanitarian values, we will continue to fight for commonsense immigration reform to protect all workers, secure our borders and reunite families.
Most Americans recognize the contributions of hardworking, taxpaying immigrants and are ready for a system that is humane and effective and legalizes those who are living in the shadows while addressing border security, economic security, global competitiveness, and reestablishing the rule of law.
The vast majority of undocumented immigrants are here for the same reasons as generations before them — to build a better life for themselves and their children. Commonsense reform would reduce the exploitation of immigrant workers and reduce employers’ incentive to hire undocumented workers. This means ensuring that all workers—immigrant and native-born— have full and complete access to the protection of labor, health and safety and other laws.
We are a nation that respects hard work, family and the pursuit of the American Dream. Our immigration system must hold true to these principles.
With 163,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country. The majority were born outside of the U.S. and come from over 60 countries around the world. They live and work with immigrants of all stripes, and recognize the impact this decision will have on their families, friends and neighbors.