UFCW-Minority Coalition

Build the bridges and the underpasses to understanding

This morning I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the UFCW-Minority Coalition board meeting in downtown, Washington, DC. They were educating the leaders from around the country on how to deal with the violations of civil and human rights violations. 

Ester Lopez, Director of the UFCW Civil Rights and Community Action Department, shared a great presentation about the future of immigration. She mentioned that one of the problems is the waiting time for a parent to bring their relative from back home, even if they do everything right: 16 years for Philipinos, 14 years for Mexicans and Cubans are instant. 

The system is not working and is full of contradictions. Check this out! You have to be a US citizen to work for TSA, but not to be a pilot, not the baggage handler, not the airport truck driver and you don’t have to be a citizen to be in the US army?  The system is not broke – this is no system?  When they say “Start at the back of the line”…There is no line! But no line for Cubans – one toe in America (for Cubans), but not the whole body of the Haitian.

Also, major service companies go to other countries to import labor. Tyson (Think Chicken) would recruit from Mexico – social security ID card in crayon and then the worker can be threatened with being sent home if they complain.  Temporary workers are not all equal but most exploited

Some other notes from the meeting:

– 70% immigrants live in urban centers

– 100 US cities have majority minority populations including: Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago

– Although the labor union is working on these issues, there is mismatched leadership in many unions.  The labor movement still has internal problems. The leaders of the union are still mostly white males. African-American are still discriminated against with wage disparity, women are underpaid and Latinas are the lowest paid.

– The U.S collects $6 billion in taxes from immigrant workers

– We need to add ESOL to our programs to our community work.

– Most immigrants are here because they overstay their visas.

– 75,000 tourist visas are from Poland

– 20,000 family unification visas

– Federal Budget priorities?  The border security budget has doubled twice in the last 10 years

– We have to increase our outreach and take back the debate from the haters.

– If one looks at Tuesday’s election in New York and Virginia, the immigration issue did not succeed as a wedge issue.  Another example is the defeat of California’s “Proposition 187”. 

– The national Black leadership have come on board on the immigration issue.  Most of them were from the Congressional Black Caucus and the Black church establishment.  However, I know Mahdi Bray, Executive Director: Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, has been active in this area, Al-hamdulillah. 

Watch Out!: (Haters)  The sister of Pat Buchanan, Bay Buchanan, chairperson, of Team America (visit website) now loves Africans and promotes Booker T. Washington and Jesse Jackson. 

The Muslim community needs to step up to the plate.  Racism and exploitation is at the heart of the raids, round-up, deportations, racist indictments, incarcerations and enhanced sentencing of a misguided segment of our government. 

Watch! (Helpers):  check out the website: www.opportunityagenda.org

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