In recent weeks, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased unprovoked I-9 audits in California, prompting UNITE HERE and allies to take action. On December 19, UNITE HERE Local 2 joined the San Francisco Labor Council, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and other allies to present a local resolution, urging President Obama to take action and protect the families of undocumented immigrants. The San Francisco resolution itself was modeled after one just passed by the Los Angeles City Council on December 18 and introduced by Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who Local 11 members worked to elect into office.
The actions these resolutions demand are outlined in an open letter to President Obama from progressive members of Congress. The three key provisions of the open letter demand that the Obama Administration stop family separation resulting from immigration deportation; extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to the parents of young people who have received DACA and to those who would be eligible for legal status under the Senate immigration bill; and end ineffective employer sanctions, I-9 audits, and the use of E-Verify, which only have led to firing of undocumented workers.
President Obama has the authority to act on all of these demands through an executive order, much like the one he already used to stay deportations for DREAMers and, just recently, families of undocumented immigrants serving in the military. Recent figures released by ICE point to an average of 1,000 deportations per day in 2013; the total number of deportations during the Obama administration is nearing 2 million.
Workers are being affected by these audits in numerous work sites, and we anticipate a continued rise in I-9 audits across the country soon. UNITE HERE joins allies in calling on the Obama Administration to grant administrative relief, even as we wait for ultimate reform legislation from Congress. Our union will never give up and we will never give in until all immigrant families have justice and peace.