An “ICE Free Zone” flyer was reported to have been posted on the door of the new worker resource center opened in Nashville by Local 456 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT). Regardless of the union’s effort to lure illegal immigrants to the the center, it is not, according to ICE guidelines, off bounds to immigration officials.
The Star asked ICE Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Nestor Yglesias whether an “ICE Free Zone” would discourage ICE officers from entering the premises if they had probable cause to believe a removable alien was inside the building. Mr. Yglesias referred The Star to the FAQ on Sensitive Locations and Courthouse Arrests posted on ICE’s website.
“Sensitive locations” are those places where ICE enforcement and removal actions are less likely to occur although there are circumstances under which, exceptions will be made and enforcement actions will proceed.
Places like the union’s Nashville office are not included in any of the “sensitive location” categories.
Local 456 has teamed up with the TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and Worker’s Dignity Dignidad Obrera to provide information and assist those who seek out the center’s resources.
Nashville Workers Dignity organized in 2010 to represent “wage theft” from low wage immigrant hotel cleaners and have expanded their campaign to include construction workers. Low wage hotel workers are bootstrapping their demands for “economic justice” defined as “a minimum wage of $15 an hour, paid sick days and maternity time, and more than anything else, respect for hotel and cleaning workers,” to the explosive growth currently being experienced in Nashville.
Workers Dignity hired a full-time organizer to head up a Neighborhood Defense Committee. This project was launched by the TIRRC to shield criminal and non-criminal illegal aliens and obstruct enforcement of immigration law by U.S. authorities.
The IUPAT, has taken a lead role in pushing back against the Trump administration’s actions on legal and illegal immigration and has formed the “Working Families United” coalition with other labor unions to “seek immigrant worker justice:”
The IUPAT sees these attacks on immigrant workers as an attack on labor as well as, an attack on the economy. The decision of DHS to terminate TPS [temporary protected status] would have immediate, expensive ramifications for our country and industry costing taxpayers $3 billion, a $45 billion reduction in GDP, $6.9 billion reduction in Social Security and Medicare contributions and nearly $1 billion in employer costs combined with and already stressed skilled worker pool.
These actions against immigrant workers and their families will do nothing more than push hard working members and families back into the shadows and to the vast contractor pool without a voice or representation.
IUPAT was part of a group represented by the ACLU that sued the Trump administration for ending Temporary Protected Status for certain immigrants. TPS can be granted to immigrants from countries that experience devastating circumstances such as earthquakes and other natural disasters but it can also help immigrants from those countries who entered the U.S. illegally remain in the U.S. with the added benefit of work authorization.
As part of his “hire American” platform, the Trump administration announced it was ending TPS for immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan and Haiti. A TPS Haitian national who is a recognized worker justice organizer, is one of the plaintiffs in the IUPAT coalition lawsuit against the Trump administration.
Regardless of the union’s efforts to push back against the enforcement of the country’s immigration laws, immigrants who enter or stay in the U.S. in violation of the immigration laws, do so subject to the consequences.
On behalf of ICE, Mr. Yglesias drives that point home:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes seriously its obligation to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, and the enforcement actions ICE employs are intended to accomplish this fairly and efficiently. ICE focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.