New York Teamsters Prepare for Immigrant Defense
Teamsters locals from across the New York City region gathered in Manhattan today for a training on immigrant rights and deportation resistance. The union represents workers in a wide range of industries, including transportation, warehousing, manufacturing, sanitation, parking, construction materials, and public sector.
“We are a union of immigrants, and it is our duty to protect all of them,” George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, told those assembled. “The federal government is targeting our immigrant members, and it affects more members than you might realize. That’s why we decided to become a sanctuary union.”
Teamsters Joint Council 16 passed a resolution to become a sanctuary union last year. As a sanctuary union, the Teamsters committed to not assist federal immigration agents in deporting its members and to proactively provide trainings, legal assistance, and organize support for immigrant Teamsters. Joint Council 16 and its 27 affiliate local unions represent 120,000 workers in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and Puerto Rico.
The declaration followed the deportation of Eber Garcia Vasquez, a 26-year member of Teamsters Local 813. The union had circulated petitions, organized members across the country to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for his release, and held a rally outside of ICE’s New York City office. Despite widespread outcry, Garcia Vasquez was deported on September 6, 2017.
At today’s training, union staff and officers learned the information needed to train their members on what to do in interactions with immigration authorities including, what to do when ICE comes to their door, how to prepare in advance for these situations, and what the union can do to support members either to prevent them from being picked up at work or responding to detentions.
The training was provided by experts from Make the Road New York and the Legal Aid Society, in partnership with the Consortium for Worker Education.