Walter Mencken 12:34 p.m., July 24
Mayoral hopefuls Alvarez, Fletcher speak at labor-organized immigration reform event
Labor leaders yesterday afternoon (September 9) organized “a coalition of local business, faith, civil rights, community, and labor groups” Downtown to again demand action from Congress on passing an immigration reform bill. The event was also attended by a handful of local politicians, including two mayoral hopefuls.
The Service Employees International Union was well-represented, having already been vocal in the immigration debate for some time due to Immigration and Customs Enforcement audits having resulted in the firing of over 500 members due to their inability to legally work. Several held signs proclaiming “Can’t wait for immigration reform, broken system already cost me my job.”
Activist Pedro Rios noted that the Obama administration has pursued undocumented immigrants with more zeal than any past presidency, with nearly two million having been deported during Obama’s tenure to date.
“Saying yes to immigration reform is saying yes to the future of San Diego, saying yes to the future of our country, to the well-being of all of us,” offered City Councilman David Alvarez, recently endorsed by the region’s biggest labor group, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, and the only politician scheduled to speak per a roster released Monday morning.
Ricardo Astiazaran, vice president of Uniradio Corporation, which operates five Spanish-language radio stations in the area, said immigration reform was of great interest to his operation and employees. He was joined by another leader ostensibly speaking on behalf of the business community – Nathan Fletcher, who was introduced not as a mayoral candidate but as the senior director of corporate development for Qualcomm.
“We have a system that doesn’t allow employers to grow the economy here,” Fletcher said, speaking as much to the plight of undocumented immigrants currently in the country illegally as to lower-paid skilled workers his employer seeks to import.
Councilwoman Marti Emerald, ACLU representatives, clergy, and workers whose jobs had been jeopardized were also present and gave statements in favor of reform measures.
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