Celina from Feministing recently interviewed Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of FIRM’s partner group, Voces de la Frontera. She gives a great overview of the current immigration debate and what immigrant rights mean to everyday folks. Here’s an excerpt:
On an everyday level, what do immigrant rights mean? And how do immigrant rights affect Americans who are not recent immigrants?
On an everyday level, immigrant rights means the right to be free of fear. Fear that at any moment you can be picked up and be separated from your family; the sense that everything you have worked for is fragile. Having to live with the fear of traveling within the U.S. and being stopped by police and questioned about your status, fear of not having identification that is so necessary in everyday life, the fear of crossing the border to be reunited with your family because of the danger if you try to come back. Fear of approaching the police if you are the victim of a crime. Fear of jail. Fear of hunger. The anguish of having to make the choice between seeing your family, in many cases your children or your aging parents, or sending them money to help them survive.
Immigrant rights affects all workers because historically, we have only raised the quality of life for working people in the U.S. by organizing across ethnic, racial, and gender lines. Immigrant workers are one segment of low-income workers in this country. If we are going to turn low-income industries into living wage industries immigrant workers have to be organized and the threat of deportation is a powerful weapon that employers use to threaten workers.
The full interview is definitely worth the read. Hat-tip to Celina at Feministing for featuring Christine, who is doing such amazing work in Wisconsin!