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Teamsters JC 16

Sanctuary Union Stands Up To Trump

The Teamsters have become a sanctuary union after Trump tried to deport one of their members

Daniel Hinton's picture
Apr 18, 2019

Unions are standing up to the Trump Administration on a laundry list of issues, from right-to-work and Janus to the government shutdown. A new front has opened up on immigration, as powerful unions like the Teamsters in New York City declare themselves “sanctuary unions” in an effort to protect members, their families, and communities who happen to come from another country.

Representing the most diverse metro area in the country, Teamsters Joint Council 16 reaffirmed their status as a sanctuary union in response to President Donald J. Trump’s threat to forcefully move detainees at the border to one of the hundred sanctuary cities and municipalities throughout the U.S.

“Rather than seeing President Trump’s statement as the threat he intends, we will celebrate, welcome, support, and protect immigrants who are released in New York,” said Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda.

The Trump Administration, which is led by a few first- and second-generation Americans including the president himself, tripped over themselves after a Washington Post report revealed that they did consider the new policy toward sanctuary cities and went as far to propose it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before dropping it. Trump picked it right back up and tweeted his support for the idea, which was then confirmed by the White House Press Secretary.

This all followed a tumultuous stretch for the Department of Homeland Security that included Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation along with a few other senior officials. Despite the changes in personnel, Trump has moved forward with cutting aid to impoverished Central American countries, continues to call for border wall funding while slashing domestic spending, and his policies might get even worse.

When ICE deported a 20-year member of the Teamsters, the union responded with a campaign to block his deportation and eventually adopted a resolution as a sanctuary union. The message was official: immigrants’ rights are workers’ rights.

“We pledged to stand against deportations and to protect the rights of our immigrant members and their communities,” Miranda said. “When companies or politicians use immigrants to divide workers, it means lower wages and unsafe jobs for everyone.”

This was hardly the first time unions and labor leaders stood up to Trump’s anti-worker policies targeting immigrants and people of color. A Day Without Immigrants amounted to a general strike across dozens of industries within the first month of Trump’s presidency. Also in New York, SEIU 32BJ and the Hotel Trades Council fought to block a member’s deportation by ICE.

Law enforcement, often seen as weak or outright hostile toward sanctuary policies, have turned on Trump’s immigration policies after suffering some of their consequences. AFGE’s Council of Prison Locals, representing over 30,000 workers in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, came out against the President and Attorney General, who were slashing correctional jobs and resources while at the same time adding refugees and asylum seekers to the prison population by the thousands. Even the Fraternal Order of Police, one of Trump’s largest support bases, realize how disastrous it would be to cut federal grants for sanctuary cities. Unfortunately, some unions, namely the one representing Border Patrol agents, still side with Trump, but in this case, it’s easy to see why.

What Trump is proposing here — to move undocumented detainees to sanctuary cities, counties, and states — is more of an empty threat than anything. For starters, it’s a huge waste of money, similar to his wall. He likely doesn’t know that a border state, New Mexico, is a self-declared sanctuary, just like Jackson City, Mississippi, as well as Butler and Harvey counties in Kansas.

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