Tag Archives: farmworkers

Update on Dolores 5/10/18

May 8, 2018 Court for Dolores Bustamante Synopsis by Lory Ghertner
A judge has denied Dolores’s asylum case today [05/08/18] based on the simple fact that an asylum case must be presented within 365 days of entry into the US. In brief, her asylum case was based on two factors:
  1. Domestic violence with the claim that her protected “ social group” was defined as Mexican women who cannot escape violence of a husband. (https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/asylum ) Because she was only in a civil union, the judge did not recognize her case under that theory.
  2. Gang violence and/or the refusal to join a gang. Her claim was based on the murder of her son with two friends after being kidnapped and tortured. Neither Dolores nor Miriam could name a gang, which murdered three people. Because there was no “proof” or clear evidence of gang involvement that theory was also dropped.

Dolores was on the stand being questioned by her lawyer for over two hours, followed by ~5 minutes of cross examination by the government’s attorney, who used the above arguments to ruin Dolores’ claim of asylum. Then her daughter, Miriam, quite bravely, was on the stand for 15 minutes with no cross examination. This was followed by a similar experience with her Pastor, Milton Irizzary. In his ruling, the judge actually blamed Dolores for not leaving an abusive relationship and essentially for her son’s death. He also referred to a 2017 study from the Department of State, showing that Mexico now has laws preventing domestic violence and has convicted 11 (eleven) people over the past year. Her attorney will be filling an appeal by June 7 to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), a three judge panel that will determine whether the judge today gave a proper judgment. This will take approximately one year and will most likely also fail But this will be followed by another appeal to the federal courts, which will take over another year to resolve. The bottom line: based on the law, it appears that her case was properly adjudicated despite the ridiculous arguments presented by the judge. She has at least another 2 years before being ordered removed from this country. Thank you to all those who stood with Dolores and Miriam today and to all of you who have expressed concern, prayed for her, and generally wished her well through this trying, frightening, and frustrating experience. Tonight they both seem relieved that this part of the ordeal is over.

Lory Ghertner

Rally in Solidarity with Dolores!

When: Tuesday May 8, 2018 08:00am-11:00am

Where: Batavia Federal Detention Center

We rally again to support Dolores! Her previous trial date at the Federal Detention Center was rescheduled last December for this May. We continue to stand in solidarity with Dolores and hope that at this trial date a request for asylum will be granted to her.
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After fleeing abuse in Mexico, Dolores settled in Wayne County with her young daughter as a single Mom more than 13 years ago. As a valued worker on an apple farm, a community leader of farmworker women, worker rights advocate and active Board member of two organizations, Dolores deserves to stay in Wayne County with her young daughter where she has made her home. She has represented farmworker women and testified at conferences in the US including at Harvard and Washington, DC, helps her fellow farmworkers in need, and contributes to her community. In 2014, when Dolores was stopped for a minor traffic violation, State Police turned her over to immigration authorities and she was placed in deportation proceedings.

Stand in solidarity with Dolores!
Keep families together! Stop deportations now!

Link to Facebook Event Here 

May Day Festival!

When: Tuesday May 1, 2018 11:00am-1:00pm

Where: Perseverance Park, Syracuse NY

Join us for a celebration of May Day, the International Workers’ Day! We will gather for speakers, music, and food.

Groups of workers are divided and exploited in various ways, but we are all a part of the same struggle. How can we fight back in the workplace to win better working conditions? We can learn from workers of the past and present who have fought and won!
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Accessibility info: This event will be in Spanish and English. ASL interpretation will be provided. The park is accessible by wheelchair. Please refrain from wearing fragrances and smoking near the event space. Children welcome. Please post or message the page with any accommodations questions or requests.

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¡Únete a nosotros para una celebración del Primero de Mayo, el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores! Nos reuniremos para oradores, música y comida.

Los grupos de trabajadores se dividen y explotan de diversas maneras, pero todos somos parte de la misma lucha. ¿Cómo podemos luchar en el lugar de trabajo para ganar mejores condiciones de trabajo? ¡Podemos aprender de los trabajadores del pasado y del presente que han luchado y ganado!
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Nota: abstenerse de fumar cerca o usar fragancias. Esto hará que el espacio sea más seguro para aquellos con sensibilidades químicas.
Información de accesibilidad: Este evento será en español e inglés. Se proporcionará interpretación de ASL. El parque es accesible en silla de ruedas.

Link to Facebook Event Here

*Press Release* Local Immigrant Advocates Applaud Governor Cuomo Press Conference on ICE Raids, Call for More Support to Local Groups on the Frontlines

Local Immigrant Advocates Applaud Governor Cuomo Press Conference on ICE Raids–Call for More Support to Local Groups on the Frontlines  

CONTACT INFORMATION: Rebecca Fuentes, organizer with the WCCNY‭,  rfuentes@workerscentercny.org (315) 657-6799‬

Fabiola Ortiz Valdez, organizer with the New York Immigration Coalition, fortiz@nyic.org (718) 514-6265

April 25, 2018, Syracuse, NY – On April 18, 2018, organizers from the Workers’ Center of CNY received a frantic call from a dairy farmer, John Collins, stating that just minutes before he had witnessed an unlawful arrest of his employee, Marcial De Leon Aguilar. Mr. Collins recounted how at least seven officers dressed in civilian clothes came to his farm without a warrant and physically assaulted and arrested Mr. De Leon Aguilar in front of his small children, as well as assaulting Mr. Collins and destroying his property.

Today, Governor Cuomo held a press conference condemning the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid that took place in Rome, NY. We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo is ready to commit resources to fight the aggressions of ICE in upstate NY. Advocates and community members in Syracuse share the Governor’s outrage. We support the Governor in taking necessary steps to ensure that our immigrant communities are safe, such as his proposed executive order that bars ICE from entering NY State facilities without a warrant.

Peter Swords, a social worker and member of the Syracuse Peace Council states: “These actions send a message of affirmation to all that NY State continues its historic welcome of immigrants and refugees.  It particularly reassures families with children that they have some protection against arbitrary traumatic removal of their parents, and that families will feel safer about entering courts, schools, and hospitals, so they will keep their rights to self-determination in the important areas of housing, education and employment.”

We believe the Governor can even more effectively protect immigrant rights and public safety by reaching out to the local organizations who are documenting and responding first to these incidents for their policy and action suggestions. We urge all NYS Legislators and the Governor to support the campaign Green Light NY Driving Together to expand access to driver’s licenses, including to undocumented immigrants. In addition, these groups are highly under-resourced for their work. We strongly encourage targeting funding to these frontline grassroots organizations to ensure that immigrant needs are being met as effectively as possible.

Sheila Sicilia, a member of the Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network said: “The IRDN and the Workers’ Center, along with other community groups, have been fighting for human rights against the abuses of ICE and CBP.  We thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing and speaking out about this growing problem, and welcome him and the resources that he can provide.”

Kayla Kelechian, an organizer with the Workers’ Center of NY said in a statement: “The fear that plagues this community is reinforced by the use of illegal raids and physically aggressive tactics by ICE and the federal government. Both ICE and the Federal government under the Trump administration violated the rights of New Yorkers. In this case, citizenship did not matter–lawful citizens and immigrants are both affected. We must recognize the organizations and the resources they provide, regardless of their capacity, to advocate for the directly-affected, and the families who are left devastated. They continue to be our greatest asset in response to these difficult times.”

Local Immigrant Advocates Applaud Governor Cuomo Press Conference on ICE Raids

END Deportations NOW!

Please join the Syracuse Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network and the Workers’ Center of Central New York, to rally in support of immigrants facing detention and deportation. In less than 2 weeks we have responded in support of 3 immigrants who have been forcibly detained by ICE agents, often with the collaboration of local police departments, like Manlius Police department who stopped 1 man this week for an alleged seatbelt violation and 4 men this past February for snow covering their license plate. Meanwhile, Border Patrol arrested another man at the Regional Transportation Center while he was transferring to an NYC bound bus enroute to see his family, putting his health in jeopardy. This Wednesday, yet another father, a dairy worker, was brutally apprehended by ICE agents in front of 2 of his young children as they waited for school, without a warrant, and leaving his 2 young children unattended while their mother, who is 7 months pregnant, was away at a doctors appointment. Within that same time period, ICE agents conducted raids that resulted in the detention of 225 immigrants in NYC, Long Island and Hudson Valley.

Immigrants in upstate New York for years have faced incredible isolation and discrimination. In addition of facing discrimination at the workplace, they deal with the ever present Border Patrol in our communities. Border Patrol’s close relationship with local law enforcement and the lack of the ability to obtain a driver’s license forces them to break the law to be able to meet their basic needs. Despite this criminalization and constant risk they continue to be a vital part of our communities by playing a crucial role in the state’s diary industry, and being at the forefront of the fight for drivers’ licenses for all. Under the Trump administration, and with the current budget increasing detention dollars and money for border Patrol, the immigrants in our communities are being torn apart from our communities and their families.
#enddeportationsnow
#stopseparatingfamilies
#getBPoffthebus
#notonemore
#not1more
#dignitynotdeportation
#nohumanbeingisillegal

Link to Facebook event HERE

Green Light NY Bill Launch in Albany

On April 18th the Green Light Coalition will be uniting from across the state to celebrate the introduction of the A10273 bill which will provide access to driver’s licenses for ALL New Yorkers regardless of immigration status.

We will meet at the Capitol building on the ‘Million Dollar Staircase’ on April 18th for a press conference and will hear from elected officials and directly affected community members from across the state. There will also be visits made to key legislators and we look forward to building with coalition members from across the state.

Interested in mobilizing from across the state? – Let us know!

Those living in the capital or who are within driving distance please join us on the Million Dollar Staircase to support the launch of the Green Light NY Bill!

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El 18 de abril, Green Light Coalition se unirá de todo el estado para celebrar la presentación del proyecto de ley A10273 que proporcionará acceso a licencias de conducir para TODOS los neoyorquinos, independientemente de su estado migratorio.

Nos reuniremos en el edificio del Capitolio en la “Escalera del Millón Dólares” el 18 de abril para la conferencia de prensa y escucharemos a funcionarios electos y miembros de la comunidad directamente afectados de todo el estado. También se realizarán visitas a los legisladores clave y esperamos construir con miembros de la coalición de todo el estado.

¿Interesado en movilizarse de todo el estado? – ¡Haznos saber!

Aquellos que viven en la capital o que están a poca distancia en automóvil, únanse a nosotros en Million Dollar Staircase para apoyar el lanzamiento de Green Light NY Bill.

Time: 10:00 am
Location: State Capitol Building – State St. and Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12224
#GreenLightNy #LuzVerdeNY #DriversLicensesNow

Link to the Facebook event HERE

Farmworker Solidarity Housing Meeting 2/25

This Sunday 2/25, we are going to have a meeting with worker leaders and we would also like to invite you all to discuss and a plan an event we are doing on March 8th in honor of the International Women’s Day. We would like to do a panel with some of our amazing women worker leaders to talk about the organizing we have been doing to protect and defend immigrants and farmworkers and we specifically want to highlight just how crucial and important it has been to have Slocum House as a resource to support that organizing. We will also share some updates with you all about Slocum and the local sanctuary coalition The meeting will be from 3-5 on Sunday at the Workers’ Center and there will be food, but bring a dish if you’d like. Please email Nikeeta Slade nslade@workerscentercny.org to let me know if you are able to attend the meeting. Thanks and look forward to seeing you all soon.

Rally for Dignified Living and Working Conditions!!!

Thanks so much for the outpouring of support. We are very happy to report that many Auburn community members in general and members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church have mobilized to provide the families with housing and financial. If you would like to support the family and find out what else they need, please contact the pastor Patrick Heery at pastor@westminsterauburn.org. Thanks so much to them and to so many of you for reaching out to your networks and working quickly to help provide support and solidarity with the families.  We invite you to join us in an action tomorrow at the farm to highlight the unjust and undiginified living and housing conditions and to demand justice.

Join us at the action tomorrow:

Rally for Dignified Living and Working Conditions
Friday, February 16th at 10:15am
3815 Melrose Road Auburn, NY 13021

Some of us will be leaving from the center at 9:00am to arrive a little earlier so if you would like to carpool with us, if you have any questions, or if you will be attending (even if you have your own transportation) please email Nikeeta at nslade@workerscny.org.  

Thank you all again so much for all of the support and solidarity!

WCCNY

EMERGENCY ALERT: Evicted Farmworkers Need Housing in Auburn ASAP!

Hello friends,

Two families who worked and lived at Melrose Farm in Auburn New York are in need of housing. They lost their employer provided housing because it was in such a horrific, dangerous, and in uninhabitable state, that code enforcement just condemned it, leaving 5 children and two mothers without a place to live. The employer has received numerous warnings and requests from code enforcement and from workers to address the housing and unfortunately, rather than do so, he has chosen to be negligent which has forced the families into homelessness. The employer has told workers to stop inviting and speaking to two ESL teachers who have been supporting them with the housing and raising the fact that the workers are being sub minimum wages which is of course illegal. This violates the opinion and guidelines from the Attorney General’s office that says that farmworkers are permitted to have visitors as they choose. Essentially, the employer wants workers to not be empowered to know their rights and to take action to address the injustices on the farm.

We are reaching out to you all to see if you could reach out to your networks in Auburn to see if there are community members that could provide emergency housing for the 5 children and, 2 mothers. The fathers have found work in Auburn, and their new job provides housing for them, but not for their families. Also, the children have just enrolled in school, so to make sure their education and lives are not interrupted, the families need to stay in Auburn.

In addition to the housing needs, we are also in the process of planning an action today (or at the latest tomorrow) to hold the employer accountable and to get justice for the workers who have lost their housing so please be on stand by. We will send out details very soon.

If you have any leads on housing please email Nikeeta at nslade@workerscentercny.org.

Thanks for your solidarity and support.

We Will Keep Pushing To Be Treated Like Human Beings!

Worker’s Center of CNY – Contact: Rebecca Fuentes 315.657.6799 rfuentes@workerscentercny.org

Worker Justice Center of NY – Contact: Carly Fox 518.500.9409    cfox@wjcny.org

 

Court Rules Against Organizing Rights for Farmworkers, Advocates Plan Appeal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 16, 2018 – The Albany County Supreme Court today dismissed a challenge to a Jim Crow-era state law that denies farmworkers the right to organize without fear of retaliation. Plaintiffs Crispin Hernandez, the Workers’ Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York, who are represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, plan to appeal the decision.

Under the New York Constitution, all workers have a right to organize and collectively bargain. Yet a more than 80-year-old law known as the Employment Relations Act includes a carve-out from these protections for farmworkers. The law reflects the segregationist politics of the Depression Era during which it was passed, when farmworkers were predominantly black.

Plaintiff Crispin Hernandez was fired from one of New York’s largest dairies, Marks Farms LLC in Lowville, after his employer saw him meeting with coworkers and an organizer to discuss workplace conditions. The meeting took place after work hours and in a worker’s personal residence. Hernandez had been working 12-hour shifts six days a week at Mark’s Farms since he was a teenager, but he lost both his job and his home.

When the plaintiffs filed suit in May of 2016, both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman publicly agreed that the excluding farmworkers from the right to organize conflicts with the state constitution. Both declined to defend the lawsuit in court. In response, the New York Farm Bureau requested that the court allow it to intervene to defend the law as a party in the case. The plaintiffs and the NYCLU did not object to the Farm Bureau’s motion to intervene, allowing the matter to be resolved in the state courts.

“I am disappointed with today’s decision, but we will continue fighting for a victory,” said plaintiff Crispin Hernandez. “With the help of God and all of our supporters, we will change the conditions that we deal with as farmworkers and we will keep pushing to be treated like human beings.”

“It’s a shame that the judge has decided to continue the Jim Crow era exclusion of Farmworkers from the protected right to organize,” said Rebecca Fuentes, lead organizer at the Workers’ Center of Central New York, a plaintiff in the case. “Today’s decision is a slap in the face for workers like Crispin Hernandez who have to live under threat and intimidation from employers and law enforcement.”

Farming is a multi-billion-dollar industry in New York, yet farmworkers often earn wages well below the poverty level. Many live in overcrowded labor camps with sweatshop-like conditions, contending with infestations of rats, cockroaches and bed bugs, and no regular access to transportation. Farmworkers are excluded from workplace protections afforded to nearly all other workers, including a day of rest, overtime pay, disability insurance and the right to organize without retaliation.

Farmworkers operate dangerous machinery at grueling rates and use toxic chemicals, often without enough training. Their fatality rate is 20 times that of the average worker in New York. Some report working 95 hours a week. Most are racial minorities who do not speak English, and as many as 75 percent are undocumented, a fact supervisors use to intimidate them into silence.

“While we are disappointed with Judge McNally’s ruling today, we are steadfast in our resolve to continue our fight through the courts,” said Carly Fox, senior worker Rights Advocate at the Worker Justice Center of New York, a plaintiff in the case. “We know that, ultimately, we stand on the side of justice and we won’t stop until we win, simply because the workers we serve are depending on it. When we are out in the field, hearing from farmworkers about the dangerous conditions on farms, depressed wages, grueling hours and unsanitary and sub-standard employer-provided housing, we know that the best resource workers have is their unity. The Worker Justice Center of New York will fight for equality for farmworkers until it is won.”

“Because of an outdated law, the people we rely on for the food in our kitchens are condemned to poverty, abuse and even death,” said NYCLU senior staff attorney and lead counsel on the case Erin Beth Harrist. “We will appeal this ruling and continue to fight this law, which violates our constitution and our state’s commitment to human rights.”

“We will not rest until farmworkers are free to organize and have a voice in their working conditions,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Today’s decision will not deter us from making sure that farmworkers enjoy the same basic rights as every other hardworking New Yorker.”

In addition to Harrist, NYCLU staff on the case include Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg, associate legal director Christopher Dunn, staff attorney Jordan Wells, staff attorney Aadhithi Padmanabhan, and paralegal Andrea Barrientos.