This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending May 5

Week Ending May 5

This week in immigration: NCLR on the first 100 days; May Day we rise up; Texas legislature passes SB 4; and NCLR participated in the New Americans Campaign conference.

NCLR reflects on the first 100 days of the administration: NCLR released a video statement by NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía regarding the first 100 days of the Trump administration and its effects on the Latino community. In the video, Janet highlights the importance of community solidarity throughout the first 100 days and notes that the president’s attitude towards Latinos has been one of continued attacks.

Janet’s take on the first 100 days was also included in a piece in the Kansas City Star.  She notes that the Trump administration has continued to antagonize the Latino community and the president “puts every undocumented immigrant at risk of deportation, even though 97 percent of them pose no threat. And he threatens to force 24 million people to live without health coverage.” The president’s actions in the first 100 days continued a pattern of stirring divisiveness and fear, Janet notes in an op-ed for Univision.

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May Day 2014: The Minimum We Can Do for All Workers

By Alicia Criado, Field Coordinator, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Every year on May 1, or May Day, people around the world celebrate and promote workers’ rights. May Day is also about ensuring that workers are respected and rewarded for their hard work. Coincidentally, this year’s May Day falls one day after the U.S. Senate blocked a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. That boost would lift about 28 million workers out of poverty and afford them the dignity they deserve.

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NCLR at the White House for President Obama’s remarks on minimum wage. April 30, 2014

In an effort to shed light on what a minimum wage increase would mean for our familias, NCLR has collected stories from our Affiliates and the NCLR Action Network. Most of these stories convey the difficulty of surviving on poverty-level wages. Many workers, particularly mothers and students, are working hard at jobs that do not sustain them or their families financially. It is simply immoral that some of these individuals have to decide between paying the rent or paying the utilities.

Many wonder what ever happened to the American promise of an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of middle- and high-wage jobs were wiped out during the Great Recession. Recent studies have shown that low-wage jobs accounted for the majority of the job growth during the recovery. This reality has left young workers such as Balla and Tyvon, members of Latin American Youth Center, an NCLR Affiliate, with limited job prospects in industries that offer limited economic security, including fast-food restaurants and retail.

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Tyvon and Balla at the White House on April 30, 2014

Balla is a part-time sales associate in the retail industry and spends hours on his feet earning $8.50 an hour. He explained that his “limited income usually allows me to cover basic expenses like rent, food, and transportation, but not always.” Balla believes that access to a good job with livable wages would “allow him to save money to pursue other dreams like obtaining post-secondary education.” Balla stood with Tyvon and other low-wage workers behind President Obama yesterday at the White House, all expressing their dismay with Congress for not allowing a vote on the minimum wage.

Watch the president’s remarks below:

The life of the working poor is difficult without a good job that pays a living wage and other workplace benefits such as paid sick leave. Raising the wage floor would benefit all workers, including approximately 24% of Latinos, a segment of our workforce that is overrepresented in low-wage occupations. Latinos are more likely than other Americans to be employed in the low-wage labor market and work in part-time positions, which rarely afford them access to benefits or living wages. Ensuring that low-wage workers can afford basic living necessities helps not only them but also communities and businesses, which in turn strengthens our economy.

On this May Day, NCLR stands with advocates of workers’ rights, immigrant rights groups, labor unions, and other small business organizations advocating for federal and state policies that create living wage jobs and protect the most vulnerable working families. We think that’s the minimum our country can do for its workers.

Today We Salute the Workers Who Make Our Lives Better

Adriana, right, and her late husband, Orestes.

Adriana, right, and her late husband, Orestes. (Photo: NCOSH)

In honor of May Day/International Labor Day, we are posting the tragic story of Orestes Martinez’ death while on the job. His wife, Adriana, has graciously agreed to share her experiences with us and we are truly grateful. The story was originally posted to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health website. Adriana’s account of her husband’s death underscores, and best illustrates, why we need  improved safety and health conditions for the nation’s workers, something which we here at NCLR strive to do every day.

In 2009, while working at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Adriana’s husband, Orestes Martinez was crushed in a construction accident while installing a two-ton lead door. The unwieldy and heavy door required manpower to be moved since there was no lift device available for him and his two co-workers to use. Martinez was crushed to death when the door fell on him. At just 28, Adriana found herself a widow, coping with her husband’s untimely death.

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America’s Workers Deserve Better

By Alicia Criado, Policy Associate, Economic Policy Project

We’re back for another round of NCLR’s video blog series.  Today’s post coincides with May Day, or International Workers’ Day, which most Americans don’t realize originated in Chicago when workers fought for the eight-hour workday in 1886.  Since then, May 1 has historically served as a day to celebrate and promote workers’ rights.  Yet, recently, the need for investments to ensure the rights of and stronger protections for workers has been largely ignored.

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Federal inaction on Capitol Hill is dangerous, and we have seen several consequences play out as a result.  Today, thousands of individuals are feeling the sting of the automatic spending cuts Congress passed on March 1, which threaten important programs, such as job training, that are critical to the well-being of workers, their families, and our communities.  At the same time, tragedies like the recent fertilizer plant explosion in Texas highlight the cost of leaving agencies like the Occupational Saftey and Health Administration, which is charged with enforcing federal laws that keep workers safe on the job, starved for resources.  Meanwhile, the introduction of unfriendly family policies like the “Working Families Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1406) represent misguided attempts to modernize structural gaps in workplace law.

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