Unions Can Protect Workers From Deportation

After more than two decades living, working, and building a family in the United States, Cesar Rodriguez feels his life is in limbo. The driver for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach from El Salvador is one of more than 300,000 immigrants at risk of losing their temporary legal status in the US after the Trump administration scrapped the program for a handful of countries.

“I’m a trucker, and I make my living with my license. Without my license, I lose my job,” Rodriguez told In These Times. “If I lose my job, I would lose everything—even my family, because I wouldn’t have a way to support them.”

Rodriguez arrived in the United States in 1996. After living undocumented for five years, the government extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Salvadorans when a devastating pair of earthquakes rocked their home country, giving immigrants like Rodriguez protection from deportation and authorization to work. Now, he’s worried about what the cancellation of the program will mean for him and his wife, also a TPS holder from El Salvador, and their three US-born children.

“We’re fighting so that they don’t take away our TPS,” he said. “I don’t want to be separated from my children, from my family.”

Rodriguez, part of a group of port drivers fighting for rights to join a union, is relieved to have parts of the labor movement on his side. Although he is not unionized, he says he already feels like part of a Teamsters local due to the union’s support for workers like him on two fronts: labor rights and immigration justice.

The Teamsters is one of the labor unions taking a stand to protect TPS holders with the message that immigrant rights are worker rights. Six unions representing 3.5 million workers have teamed up under the banner of Working Families United to join the campaign to save TPS and demand Congress take bipartisan action to allow TPS holders to stay in the country.


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