Hundreds of workers march to Foley Square in New York City to demand stronger worker protections and a full pathway to citizenship for immigrants on May 1, 2022. (Shutterstock)
NEW YORK—Unions and worker justice organizations are joining the call for lawmakers in Albany to pass the New York for All Act, which would broadly prohibit local and state agencies from assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in searching for, arresting and deporting immigrant New Yorkers.
Twenty-five labor unions and worker justice groups, who represent tens of thousands of New York workers, today sent an open letter to Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie and all of the New York State Senate and Assembly calling for passage of the bill.
“For far too long, [ICE and CBP] have demonized and demoralized immigrant New Yorkers with raids and scare tactics that have cruelly separated families and harmed communities… Employers often exploit immigrant workers’ fear of deportation to discourage them from advocating for themselves against workplace abuses and to suppress organizing efforts, depressing standards for all working people. The New York For All Act offers protections that address this, by prohibiting local and state agencies from funneling people into ICE and CBP custody, sharing sensitive information, and using local resources to undertake a federal political agenda,” they said in the letter.
The groups say passage of the bill is long overdue and note that New York is lagging behind California, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, and other states which have all passed similar legislation.
The signatories to the letter represent a diverse group of workers from across the state, across different industries, immigrant communities, and in both the private and public sector.
The groups’ call for the bill adds to the momentum behind it. New York for Alll already has majority support in the State Senate, with 32 cosponsors on the bill. It has also passed through the Codes Committee in the Assembly.
The unions and worker groups join many other community-based and legal advocacy groups calling on lawmakers in Albany to pass the bill without delay.
Read the full letter with the list of signatories here.
QUOTES FROM SIGNATORIES:
“This International Workers’ Day, we thank the labor unions and worker justice organizations who join us in the collective call for passage of New York for All! ” said the New York for All coalition. “All workers deserve to participate in their communities and organize their workplaces with dignity and without fear of local and state entanglement with ICE.”
“As a diverse union that represents child care providers, graduate employees and human services workers among others, United Auto Workers Region 9A knows all too well the fear of local and state agencies colluding with ICE chills our members from fully participating in their communities.” said Brandon Mancilla, Regional Director with United Auto Workers, Region 9A. “We are eager to see New York for All pass and send a clear message to all workers in our state that local resources will not be used to undertake an agenda to rip apart and separate immigrant communities.”
“The New York Taxi Workers Alliance builds power for hundreds of thousands of drivers in New York City, the majority of whom are immigrants who come from every community, garage and neighborhood. To do right by these workers, we must demand a state with utmost protections for our immigrant communities.” said Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “We must be clear that ICE cannot use our local government agencies to search for and arrest our own community members. We must pass New York for All this session!”
“We must send a clear message to Local and State agencies that they cannot and must not assist ICE in tactics that cruelly separate and harm working families,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of District Council 37. “The time is now to pass New York for All.”
“Immigrants are a part of the fabric of society and make New York the vibrant state we all call home,” said Michael Prohaska, Business Manager of the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York and Laborers Local 79. “Sadly too many of our immigrant neighbors go about their daily lives in fear of ICE and other immigration agencies taking them away from their families and communities they call home. No one should leave for work or school fearing they may not return home – that’s why Local 79 is proud to support and urge our elected leaders to pass New York For All legislation to prohibit state agencies from assisting ICE and Customs Border Patrol.”
“As a union that fights to improve working and learning conditions at the nation’s largest urban public university, we advocate for our immigrant union members and for tens of thousands of immigrant CUNY students. They must be protected and empowered as workers and community members,” said James Davis, President of the Professional Staff Congress – CUNY. “The New York for All Act would send a clear message that New York stands by our immigrant workers and take the long overdue step of preventing federal enforcement agents from compelling local agencies to collaborate in demonizing, detaining, and deporting immigrant New Yorkers.”
“As a union that advocates for all working carpenters for fair wages, benefits and safe conditions, we know that we are strongest when all of our members – including immigrant workers – feel empowered to organize together.” said Bill Banfield, Assistant Executive Secretary-Treasurer with the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. “New York for All offers key protections to immigrant New Yorkers by prohibiting local agencies from assisting ICE with their agenda, and allowing the millions of immigrant workers in our state to better participate in their communities. The time is now to pass this bill.”
“As a union that unites physicians to have a strong voice and garner power for our patients and communities, we know that ending the collusion between ICE and local agencies is key to ensuring immigrants will visit public hospitals, access testing and vaccination programs, and trust us as to care for them at their most vulnerable” said Dr. Michael Zingman National Secretary Treasurer, Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU. “We must pass New York for All and make clear that local and state resources will not be used on tactics that separate families and harm communities.”
“The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund represents Asian immigrants of all backgrounds, including low-wage Asian immigrant workers. Despite their vital role in New York’s communities and economy, all too often, immigrant workers are afraid of asserting their rights and participating in workplace justice efforts, because they are worried about consequences to their immigration status,” said Margaret Fung, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. “We must pass New York for All to protect and empower all immigrant workers and to prevent local and state agencies from assisting ICE in its agenda to harm immigrant communities.”
“The more than 10,000 street vendors in New York City, most of whom are immigrants and people of color, are a vital part of our communities. Despite struggling to make ends meet in their work, they also have to constantly worry about risks of contact with the criminal and immigration legal systems” said Matt Shapiro, Legal Director of the Street Vendor Project, Urban Justice Center. ” We must pass New York for All and send a strong message to our members that local agencies will not share their information with ICE nor use local resources to assist in ICE’s agenda.”
“Rural & Migrant Ministry, Inc., is rooted in the long tradition held by many faith communities of the essential importance of welcoming the foreigner in our midst,” said the Rev. Richard Witt, Executive Director of Rural & Migrant Ministry, Inc. “New York for ALL lives into this tradition by assuring that our farmworking brothers and sisters, as well as other immigrants, will not live in fear as they contribute to our well-being and economy.”
The New York For All Coalition steering committee includes Alianza Agrícola, The Bronx Defenders, FWD.us, Immigrant Defense Project, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York Immigration Coalition, and Vera Institute of Justice.