Advocates for immigrant workers in Mississippi are calling on the Biden administration to overturn policies that target undocumented immigrant communities. They say the President can start by protecting those affected by the 2019 ICE raids.
Standing outside of the Department of Labor office in Jackson Advocates for immigrants rights chant in Spanish "Aqui estamos y no nos vamos," translating to "Here we are, and we're not leaving."
They're there to deliver a letter to the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, urging the Biden administration to create protections for immigrant workers. Vidhi Bamzai, attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center says they're calling for reform for several policies, and create protections for immigrants arrested in the 2019 ICE raids at Mississippi poultry plants. "Asking the Biden administration and the Department of Labor particularly to take some action and to recognize that immigrant workers are American workers.
The letter was delivered to Audrey Hill, District Director of the Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor. Hill declined to comment on the letter. And in order to ensure the equity and justice that they deserve, we need the administration to take a stand and to get engaged and to recognize that they have a responsibility to all workers."
"Here we are, and we're not leaving."
Advocates say undocumented immigrants are often paid less and work in unsafe conditions because reporting an employer could lead to their deportation. Lorena Quiroz [key-rows] is Director of the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity. She says a good first step in protecting immigrants is to issue permits for their protection. "When you have a permit, you're not afraid to file a grievance. You're not afraid to go get diapers in the middle of the night, or formula for your infant. Although we are a people of color and we're afraid of police regardless, but the fact that if you're not carrying a driver's license or a driver's license or a permit, that you're going to be sent to jail or deported."
According to a 2019 U.S. census survey, 2% of Mississippians are immigrants.