Union Leaders Condemn Trump for Killing DACA

The Service Employees and the Asian-Pacific AFL-CIO constituency group vow active resistance to Trump’s deportations of the Dreamers. 

WASHINGTON—Union leaders condemned Republican President Donald Trump’s decision to end the DACA program, which let undocumented “Dreamers” brought to the U.S. as children stay here in the open, working, attending college or serving in the military.

Several leaders said Trump’s move plays to his white supremacist base, while two, from the Asian-Pacific American Labor Alliance and the Service Employees, said their organizations would actively resist it.

Trump’s move, which was expected, came despite constant demonstrations for the 800,000 Dreamers, including two protests at the White House on his decision day, September 5. One drew dozens of Dreamers and almost a thousand people. Other protests nationwide included a walkout by school children in Denver.

Trump also defied other unions, congressional Democrats, some Republicans, business leaders and even the leading current contender for Mexico’s presidency next year. All want the Dreamers to stay.

“This shameful move is cruel and only seeks to fuel Trump’s anti-immigrant and racist agenda,” said SEIU Executive Vice President Rocio Saenz after Trump’s decision, announced by anti-Latino U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“But let it be clear: SEIU members and our communities won’t let President Trump’s actions stop us from standing up for immigrant families. We vow to stand together, mobilize on an unprecedented scale to resist these racist attacks against all communities of color.”

“United, we’ll use this fight to build our movement so we can drive a turnaround in 2018 to change the direction of the country and win an America where immigrant families and all working people have a say at work and in our political system through unions, and where every family and community have the opportunity to thrive.”

“Know we will protect, defend, and fight with you – our immigrant brothers, sisters, and siblings – from raids, detention, and deportation,” vowed Monica Thammarath, president of the Asian-Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), an AFL-CIO constituency group.

“We are committed as ever to do everything in our power to stop this mass deportation agenda, and to make sure white supremacists and their agenda have no place in the White House or at any level of government now and in the future.”  A group representing undocumented Asians organized the second White House demonstration on September 5.

The Dreamers themselves told Press Associates Union News Service about their dreams – which Trump would smash.

Josue de Luna, brought to the U.S. at age 9 from Torreoncoachila, Mexico, is majoring in chemical and biological engineering at the University of New Mexico and wants to enter medical school. He said Trump won’t give him a chance.

Eric Prez now lives near the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He came to the U.S. at age 7 and now he’s among 27 people fasting to show how much they dream of staying here, which is their real home. The third-year student in business administration plans on finishing his education, and fears Trump’s Homeland Security Department will use his information under DACA to deport him.

Brandon Diaz came to the U.S. at age 5 from Guerrero, Mexico. Now he’s 20, lives in Baltimore, and is an activist for Casa de Maryland, the union-backed – and unionized – group in the D.C. and Baltimore areas who help new immigrants, some of them undocumented, to adjust life in the U.S. “I’m fasting, too, because I don’t want people to go and leave their dreams,” he says.

And Cynthia Toyco of Rogers, Ark., 33, is married to a U.S. citizen, but she came here at age 7, from Peru, walking thousands of miles with other refugees. “We were three to three and a half months on foot. We were stalked and robbed and nearly lost our lives,” she says, fleeing repression and war in Peru, where a right-wing government and opposing guerrillas both preyed on the population.

“We have been here paying taxes, and paying back taxes,” Toyco says of herself and other Dreamers – undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children. “And nothing’s been returned to us, because we’re not citizens.” Now Trump wants to return her to Peru.

Trump and Sessions said the program will die in six months, and expiring work permits – which DACA lets the undocumented people seek and get – may be extended, but no new applicants will be OKd. And Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will arrest and deport Dreamers when they find them, a Trump Homeland Security Department official told news services.

Trump challenged Congress to act on the Dreamers issue before he starts the mass deportations. Given past history, where right wingers killed the Dream Act through a 2010 Senate filibuster and trashed comprehensive immigration reform before that, such legislative relief is unlikely at best.

One point union leaders made: The 800,000 Dreamers would be booted out of what they consider their homeland.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called Trump’s decision “cruel and wrong.”

“This direct attack on union members and union values only strengthens our resolve to overcome racial divisions and demand changes to a system rigged to benefit the wealthiest and corporations. The eyes of history are upon us. The labor movement will stand with these brave young workers and fight for legislation so that the contributions they make are celebrated, rather than assaulted. We will push for a pathway to citizenship and continue to oppose enforcement policies that discriminate and generate fear in our workplaces and communities. We will not give up the struggle until all working people have rights on the job, regardless of where they were born,” he said.

• “Deporting young people brought to the United States by parents lacking proper documentation to immigrate is punishing the child for the dreams of the parents,” said Steelworkers President Leo Gerard. The Dreamers “contribute positively to our economy, our national defense and respond to natural disasters such as Harvey.” To prevent deporta-tion, “Congress now must quickly act to enshrine in law the protections DACA provided.”

• Deporting Dreamers “is a disgrace,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Culinary Workers Local 226 in Las Vegas – Unite Here’s largest local, with 50,000 members, and one that is majority-minority.

“This is not what the United States of America represents, nor is it who we are. This policy is another clear example of white supremacy strategies and tactics and we denounce it. This administration is attacking 800,000 young immigrant workers who pay taxes and are essential to the economy. This policy change was completely at President Trump’s discretion and we will hold him accountable for it,” she vowed.

Communications Workers President Chris Shelton called Trump’s deportation of Dreamers “cruel and mean-spirited. These young people were brought here by their parents at a very young age. They know no other home than the United States, and have made productive, successful lives here.” He urged retaining DACA until Congress resolves the issue.

• Trump is “upending the lives — and the dreams — of more than 850,000 young people. And for what? To stoke resentment and fear?” asked Teachers President Randi Weingarten. She cited an AFT member, a Dreamer who now teaches high school Spanish in Austin, Texas, as an example of how DACA lets “young immigrants who were brought here as children to remain in the United States by giving them temporary protection from deportation and permission to legally work. The young people covered by DACA are woven into the fabric of American society. They contribute to our economic growth and our diversity.

“America is stronger when we value people and create opportunity to achieve the American dream, regardless of demography or geography,” Weingarten said, calling on Congress to protect the Dreamers, quickly. “We are fighting for the soul of America.”

• “It is now incumbent on the Republican-led Congress to pass the bipartisan Dream Act,” Auto Workers President Dennis Williams added. “If Congress fails, over 800,000 of our friends, neighbors and many fellow union members who came to America as children, pay taxes, raise families and contribute vital services to our economy, risk deportation to a strange land that many do not know and cannot recollect. Enough is enough. We cannot let the American Dream become hostage to a politically extreme agenda that seeks to divide us.”

Source: PAI