As reported by the News article “Workers urged to sign petition” (10/26) hatemongering and divisive methodologies have risen on campus in attempts to turn Yale workers against undocumented immigrants. The members of groups such as Community Watchdog Project (CWP) and the Southern Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Reform (SCtIR), Connecticut’s own version of the Minutemen Project, are not merely opposing programs like the municipal ID card program, but are employing deceitful and reactionary tactics such as harassing city hall clerks as they issue the Elm City ID card, demanding the names and addresses of municipal ID card holders, and now convincing Yale workers to turn against their union by dispelling incorrect messages about Latino immigrant workers. The outrageous propaganda spread by these groups of how undocumented immigrants are stealing jobs without paying taxes is only a product of their divide-and-conquer methods and is completely unacceptable in our community.
Groups like the CWP and SCtIR promote these myths as a means of raising antagonism against the undocumented, but facts and history disprove these claims by instead showing the many contributions these workers have made in the nation and the New Haven community.
All immigrants pay taxes, and in many ways offer more benefits to the United States, its labor force and its economy than they receive themselves. Tax payments from immigrants are consistently $20 to $30 billion more than the amount they receive in government services. As they find jobs in key sectors they contribute significantly to the U.S. economy as well as become members and allies of local workers’ unions. Since 1996, the percentage of foreign-born wage and salary workers in unions has risen from 8.9 to 12.3 percent in 2006.
In New Haven, Latino workers have demonstrated their solidarity with members of the Local 35 union. In 2003, during a strike held by Local 35 workers against the University, Latino scabs brought in to replace union members ended up joining the strike and supporting the cause of the African American workers. The majority of workers in UNITE-HERE, Local 35’s national union, are Latinos, and probably many of them are undocumented, which is one reason why UNITE-HERE has taken a strong stance nationally on immigration reform in support of undocumented workers.
Immigrants’ rights and workers’ rights are closely linked; a statement signed by many community leaders in New Haven, including the presidents of Local 34 & 35 and director of Local 217, declares that “no human being is illegal and no worker’s wages and conditions are secure as long as another worker’s vulnerability is exploited.” In trying to turn Yale workers against immigrant residents of New Haven, reactionary and racist groups are seeking to divide communities that, when they organize and unite around common issues, have the ability to affect real change in this city and in this country.
The tactics of groups like the CWP and SCtIR only seek to create divisions between the communities and thus cannot be tolerated.
As students and members of the Yale community, we stand absolutely against these hateful messages and divide-and-conquer methodologies being used on our campus. These practices, common amongst larger organizations such as the Minutemen Project, are disgraceful and unjust and we will not sit passively as fear-mongering and prejudiced groups like the CWP and SCtIR spread destructive messages aimed at New Haven residents.
In the spirit of Solidarity Week, we show support for undocumented workers and all efforts to assist in creating equal rights for them. The petitions and messages against them are not welcome on our campus, for they are against everything we stand for as members of the Yale and New Haven community. We wish to establish our campus as one that respects all the members of its community and refuses to accept any messages of intolerance on its grounds.
Robert Sanchez, a senior in Saybrook College, is a member of Coalition for Campus Unity. His opinion is endorsed by members of the following student organizations: Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, Black Students Alliance at Yale, Coalition for Campus Unity, Undergraduate Organizing Committee, Alianza, Yale Black Men’s Union, Yale Law Workers’ Rights Project, Muslim Students Association, Salt of the Earth, LGBT Co-Op, Jews for Justice, University Lutheran Ministries and the Yale NAACP.