New York, NY – On last night’s episode of Blue Collar Buzz, Council Member Mathieu Eugene [D-40th District] helped highlight the deportation crisis currently gripping scores of hardworking immigrant families here in New York City and across the country.
“We are talking about people who have been living in the United States for many years, who are part of the fabric of New York City [and] of the United States of America, who have children —people who are positive and productive citizens,” the Brooklyn legislator said.
Widespread deportation fears immediately arose last November, following Donald Trump’s election to the highest office in the land, when the then president-elect boasted of booting out millions of immigrant workers before he even had a chance to utter the oath of office.
At the time, Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to assuage the rapidly rising fears of blue collar workers in New York City, telling 32BJ members endorsing Hizzoner’s re-election bid that, “You protect workers by using the power of local government to defend workers’ rights.”
“I keep reminding folks, because of our Constitutional system, we in this city hold tremendous power over what happens to our people in this city,” the mayor said.
Mayor de Blasio’s assurances are being sorely tested this week, however, as increasingly unchecked Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents target Haitian, Latino and other minority communities both here in NYC and across the country for deportation.
Tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m, labor groups and immigration advocates will gather outside ICE offices at 26 Federal Plaza to fight the deportation of Teamsters Local 813 member Eber Garcia-Vasquez.
The private sanitation hauler and father of four came to the U.S. in the 1980s fleeing deadly violence in Guatemala, and has been a proud Teamster for more than a quarter century. ICE agents took Eber into custody on August 24, and are bent on deporting him despite Eber’s marriage to a U.S. citizen and his eligibility for Green Card status.
Eber’s case is typical of immigrants who have fled oppression abroad and successfully woven themselves into the fabric of their adopted communities after years of hard work and perseverance, only to now be capriciously targeted for deportation under the increasingly authoritarian Trump administration.
Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda is vowing to fight the deportation, saying, “Our union stands with immigrant New Yorkers and against the hostile actions of the Trump administration.”
California’s Immigrant Worker Protection Act was introduced in that state’s assembly this past March, in an effort to fend off the rising tide of workplace raids by ICE.
Council Member Eugene characterized all those being victimized this way: “They are very hardworking people, paying taxes. They play by the rules and they are raising their families.”
“The United States is a land of immigrants,” Council Member Eugene continued. “Immigrant people came from all over the place to contribute to the fabric of this country. The United States is strong because of the contribution of so many of us who came from different countries.”
Instead of demonizing hardworking people seeking opportunity and asylum, Council Member Eugene is calling for reforming a broken immigration system that now senselessly seeks to eject hardworking people like Eber Garcia-Vasquez and so many others.
“Immigration has been a fact since the beginning of civilization,” Council Member Eugene told Blue Collar Buzz. “People go from one country to the other and then become part of those countries that they are living. I think we have to approach the immigration system in another way, and that will be good for not only those people, but also the United States.”
LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airs every Sunday night on AM970 The Answer from 9 to 10 p.m. This week’s episode, as well as every other episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” is also available on demand at www.am970theanswer.com.