Immigrant steel workers march against unjust firings
Two hundred immigrant workers, their wives, husbands, children and hundreds of supporters marched through downtown Berkeley February 17, protesting their firing from Pacific Steel Castings, one of the city’s largest employers. Starting at City Hall, they walked for an hour past stores and homes, as bystanders often applauded. Teachers and students at a Montessori school along the route even came out to the sidewalk to urge them on.
At a rally before the march started, fired worker Jesus Prado told the assembled crowd, “I worked for Pacific Steel for seven years. We’ve organized this March for Dignity because we want to stop the way they’re stepping on us and treating us like criminals. We came here to work, not to break any laws.”
“Many of us are buying homes, or have lived in our homes for years,” added another fired worker, Ana Castaño. “We have children in the schools. We pay taxes and contribute to our community. What is happening to us is not just and hurts our families. All we did was work. That shouldn’t be treated like it’s a crime.”
Berkeley City Council member Jesse Arreguin agreed. “We’re here today to send a message to the Obama administration that the I-9 raids have to stop,” he told the crowd.
Two hundred fourteen workers were fired in December and January, as a result of a so-called silent raid, in which the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspected the company’s records to find workers who don’t have legal immigration status. ICE then demanded that the company fire them, because it said they lacked legal immigration status.
Read the full story at Truth Out