Christian Torres worked as a cook in the Pomona College dining hall for more than six years. Torres and 16 of his co-workers were fired from Pomona College for not re-verifying their work eligibility after the college asked for documents, which were requested while he was leading an effort to organize to form a union. Torres and his brother came to the United States while still teenagers to join their mother and father who were already in the U.S. He supports the movement to create a common-sense immigration process. Although Torres was fired from Pomona, he continues to support his co-workers in their struggle for better working conditions at the college.
Torres, along with a diverse coalition of families, immigrant rights, labor, faith, business, students and elected leaders, sent a clear message last Friday about California’s leadership role in making immigration reform with a path to citizenship possible.
“There are more opportunities to build a stable future in this country,” said Torres in a phone interview.”I want to eventually start a family, and I want to give my family what I didn’t have in Mexico.”
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo joined the call to create a common-sense immigration process along with members of the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, California DREAMer groups, Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), Laborers (LIUNA), National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), United Steelworkers (USW), UNITE HERE and more.
We are calling on our elected officials to ensure that any immigration reform that is passed includes a path to citizenship, not just temporary status. Lots of politicians are now talking about “legalization”—but what they mean is temporary protections for a small group, not a path to citizenship for those who have been here and already earned a chance at the American Dream.
Immigration reform should be about giving people who aspire to be citizens a chance at that dream—not making the path citizenship so punitive and expensive that it’s out of reach. And this should include all those who have made this country their home through honest hard work and sweat—this means people like day laborers, domestic workers, taxi workers and carwash workers.
(Jackie Tortora is the blog editor and social media manager at the AFL-CIO, whose site first carried this post.)