Melanie Berkowitz

US Immigration Reform Bill Makes Splash, but Mass Firings Continue

While the United States Senate made final tweaks to pass its highly publicized immigration reform bill S.744 last Thursday, community members in the San Francisco Bay Area protested the firing of hundreds of undocumented immigrant workers.

On June 11, 2013, fired workers and their supporters participated in a 72-hour hunger strike in San Jose and Oakland, California. This “Fast Against the Firings” drew attention to the insidious effects of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department’s continued policies requiring local employers to fire workers who do not have proper immigration papers. Fasters and community members held signs reading “Trabajar No Es Un Crimen!” (Work is Not a Crime) and condemned S.744’s proposal for a mandatory e-verify program as part of the immigration reform legislation. According to Reverend Deborah Lee, a faster and the Director of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, more than 50 people participated in the fast.