This week the Metrowest Worker Center has been standing with Angelica in her efforts to be reunited with her daughter. The pair fled terrible violence in Guatemala a few months ago. They were picked up near the border in Arizona and taken to a detention center. One morning they were awakened at 5am. She was ordered to dress her daughter in an oversized shirt, a blue jacket and blue pants then placed in a line with other children to be taken away. That mid-May morning was the last time she saw her daughter, then 7 years old. A few days later her daughter turned 8 years old alone with total strangers. They have been able to speak by phone 5 times in the past 6 weeks. Angelica was released by ICE after making her case for asylum and came to Framingham were she knows a few people.
MWC-Casa was contacted about the situation on a Friday. By the end of the weekend, Diego had met with Angelica, obtained an excellent immigration attorney (pro bono), and set up a meeting with the Attorney General’s office. The lawyer immediately began efforts to obtain the daughter’s release. When that effort failed they held a press conference on Wednesday June 27th to announce that they filed suit in US District Court to get the agencies involved to speedily release the child to her mother.
You can listen to the press conference https://www.facebook.com/aclumass/videos/10155668756312475/
You can read the Boston Globe coverage of the story www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/06/27/guatemalan-seeking-asylum-sues-for-daughter-return/VgFMzzGC3EiqcKqRJHfrsO/story.html
You can make a donation to the fund that has been created to help buy the airplane tickets that we hope will be needed soon, help with counseling costs, help with emergency housing and other basic needs that will continue until Angelica is given permission to work. https://fundrazr.com/01MyA8?ref=ab_c7MkU5
The Metrowest Immigrant Solidarity Network collaborates with the Metrowest Worker Center -Casa. It is made up of people and faith groups in the Metrowest area, immigrant and citizen, who will actively stand together as neighbors to create the welcoming community in which we want to live. The statement below was crafted before the most recent crisis of children at the border. It is written out of our experience as citizens of the pain and fear that grips our immigrant neighbors. It is even more urgent at this time. We welcome you or your organization to endorse the statement. Please leave a comment below if you would like to add your name or your organization's name to the list of endorsers. We will use this list in meetings with public officials at the local, state and federal levels.
A Declaration of Support for our Immigrant Neighbors
We, the undersigned of the Metrowest Area, stand in solidarity with the Metrowest Immigrant Solidarity Network:
June 21, 2018 update
MWC-Casa and a host of organizations worked together to oversee passage in the MA Senate today of a bill that would give the attorney general’s office more tools to hold employers accountable for breaking the law, including the ability to bring wage theft cases to court for civil damages and to issue “stop work orders” until wage theft violations are corrected. S2546 passed unanimously. Now on to the House. One would think this would be easy. Who would actually lobby against a bill on wage theft? Only those who somehow benefit from the system. Time to shed some light. If that is their business model, it is not an acceptable one. People deserve to be fully compensated for the work they perform.
MWC-Casa has helped workers recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages, mostly in the construction industry. The work begins with simple efforts to let the employer know that they need to pay up. It is not uncommon that the threat to involve state and federal authorities is enough to get them to step up. If not, we in do involve state agencies. This report reflects only those that make it to the agency level - the proverbial tip of the iceberg of wage theft. It makes clear what a huge problem wage theft has become. Report from the Economic Policy Institute: Two billion dollars in stolen wages were recovered for workers in 2015 and 2016—and that’s just a drop in the bucket
This is an update to the case of José Flores (Injured Worker Detained by ICE in Retaliation). At 11:30am on May 22, José Flores was released to his family for deferred action due to pressure from Metrowest Worker Center, MassCOSH, and other members of the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative and legal allies. While this is a victory, the need for financial support has increased, in order to be able to assist the entire family with legal counsel. We are so grateful for the more than $7,500 already raised. Our current goal is to raise another $12,500 for a total of $20,000. Please consider making a donation here.
Last week, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters released a statement against this kind of retaliation, saying "The New England Regional Council of Carpenters represents all carpenters regardless of their status. If someone works they deserve to be paid. If they are injured on the job they are entitled to workers compensation coverage. End of story. A worker’s immigration status should not play any role in whether these right apply. Immigration officials going after any worker involved in a workplace dispute has a chilling effect on others exerting their rights under the law."
We are organizing with a broad-based coalition of allies to speak up against this situation. We know that, beyond the workplace, the threat of ICE tends to drastically reduce the community’s willingness to report any kind of serious situation to authorities, from domestic violence to medical emergencies. This makes our communities far less safe, and provides protection for those who prey on the vulnerabilities of others. We urge you to join us in standing up for the safety of our communities.
The lead story on WBUR's website today details the case 38-year old Jose Flores and his family. After being severely injured on a job site, where the employer didn't have worker's compensation insurance, the employer setup a meeting with the worker and ICE was waiting for the worker when he exited the meeting. The worker, still recovering from his injuries, is in detention awaiting deportation.
Listen to, or read, the WBUR's coverage here.
Metrowest Worker Center assisting the worker and his family. Please consider a donation to our crowd funding campaign and help us spread the word:
UPDATE 5/22/2017: José Flores was released to his family for deferred action due to pressure from Metrowest Worker Center, MassCOSH, and other members of the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative and legal allies. Details and next steps here.