Americans in Every Way Except on Paper

From DPE

This month, the Trump administration announced it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided temporary permission for over 800,000 undocumented young people brought to the United States as children to live and work in the country. The young people covered by DACA include teachers, journalists, entertainers, behavioral health specialists, and many other young professionals. As the place in the labor movement for professionals, the Department for Professional Employees’ (DPE’s) affiliate unions’ members bring to the table a diverse array of backgrounds, nationalities, and immigration experiences — including Dreamers.

DPE stands with the young professionals, union members, and all of those affected by the termination of DACA. We urge Congress to pass the Dream Act, which would ensure over one million people stay out of the shadows and are provided with work authorization, the most potent protection against immigration-based retaliation.

The stories below describe how DACA made the professional career aspirations come true for these young people. Through their work, these Dreamers are making our communities and economy better. We have all benefited from the DACA program and will continue to benefit with the passage of the Dream Act.

Jose Galvan, aspiring Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) member


Jose Galvan, theater professional and aspiring SDC member. Courtesy of Jose Galvan

Jose Galvan is a theater professional, aspiring member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), and a DACA beneficiary. He came to the United States from Mexico as a two year old with his mother and brother. They decided to come to the United States to reunite with Jose’s father, who had been living, working, and paying taxes in California.

Jose was the first in his family to graduate high school, and earned a full, merit-based scholarship to attend the University of San Diego (USD). At USD, Jose discovered his passion for theater.

“I fell in love, because I learned as an artist I had a voice,” said Jose of his introduction to theater. “I could use art to start a dialogue, make people feel something, question something, make a difference.”

Jose went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts and performance studies with an emphasis in directing. While a senior at the University of San Diego, Jose became the first artistic and literary intern for the Old Globe in San Diego, a theater modeled after Shakespeare’s Old Globe in London. Following graduation, Jose was offered a job in the Arts Engagement Department at the Old Globe.

Jose now has a career in theater. Most recently, he directed a show for children of military families that aimed to help them deal with the unique challenges they face with loved ones in the armed forces. The show toured military bases, armories, and armed services’ YMCAs. Jose is now working towards graduate school and getting his master’s degree in directing.

Jose spent essentially his whole life in the United States — it is all he knows. The impending loss of DACA means that Jose could lose his ability to work legally, his access to health insurance, his opportunity to pursue a MFA, and his home. The end of DACA also means the United States could lose someone who has already made important contributions to the country and is on a path to making many more.

Karen Reyes, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) member


Karen Reyes, teacher and AFT member. Courtesy of AFT

Karen Reyes is a DACAmented teacher and a member of Education Austin, part of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Karen came to the United States from Mexico at the age of two. She grew up the United States and always thought of herself as a typical American kid — since that’s who she was. However, once she realized she was undocumented, she began to hold back, frozen by fear.

“I held back from friendships, I held back from activities, I held back from applying to the universities that I really wanted to attend, because would they want me even with my status,” said Karen.

Fortunately, Karen was able to attend college and pursue her dream of working in education. She earned a private scholarship to attend the Deaf Education and Hearing Science program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

In 2012, Karen was able to become a DACA beneficiary and teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Karen is helping these students and their families communicate and achieve their own dreams.

“DACA made me find my voice and made me be able to live without fear. DACA made me visible, it has empowered me and made it possible for me to come out of the shadows and fight for myself and for the other 800,000-plus Dreamers,” said Karen. “We must defend DACA because, after living here for 26 years, I am here to stay.”

Karen’s story is adapted from her “Becoming Visible” story previously published by AFT.

Jorge Corona, Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) member


Jorge Corona, filmmaker, writer, and member of WGAE. Courtesy of Jorge Corona

Jorge Corona is a filmmaker and writer, a founding member of Fusion’s union for editorial staff, and a former DACA beneficiary. Jorge came to the United States from Mexico with his parents as an 11 year old. He earned admission to the University of Texas after performing well at school in San Antonio. Due to his immigration status, there was a lot of uncertainty about being able to pay for college because he was not legally eligible to work. Fortunately, Jorge found a way, mostly with the help of some scholarships and grants he was eligible for.

While in college at the University of Texas, DACA was announced, and Jorge was able to qualify. After he graduated, he was able to move to New York City and pursue his chosen career because of the employment authorization DACA provided. In New York City, Jorge began working for media outlets in a freelance capacity. He did a few jobs at Fusion, and was hired as a full-time employee soon after. Jorge participated in the successful campaign among Fusion staff to form a union with Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) in 2015. Winning the right to negotiate with their employer meant Fusion’s staff earned a stronger say in what the company was doing. Many people in the newsroom earned their first raise because of the efforts of Jorge and his coworkers who participated in the organizing campaign.

While Jorge no longer is a DACA beneficiary, his story demonstrates how the program provides stability, protection and a way forward for Dreamers to pursue their career goals and contribute to our economy.

Selene Meza, Office of Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) member

Selene Meza is a DACA beneficiary serving on the front lines of the opioid epidemic as a chemical dependency professional in Bellingham, Washington. Selene arrived in the United States with her family when she was 13. As a young teenage she knew she did not have documents, but at that time she did not know what that meant.

In high school, Selene realized that she was at a disadvantage because she was undocumented. She could not work summer jobs like her friends, and she didn’t think she could go to college. Fortunately, Selene was able to attend community college and then transfer to a four year school to earn her bachelor’s in psychology. Selene was the first in her family to graduate from college.

While finishing college, Selene initially qualified for DACA. The work authorization Selene received through DACA meant that she could put her degree to use. Selene went to work at a community behavioral health clinic, where she still works today as an addiction treatment counselor. Selene helps people fighting addictions to heroin and works with patients’ families. She is a member of the Office of Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 8.

As a DACA beneficiary, Selene has been able to contribute to her household, which includes her husband and two young children. The end of DACA without a legislative solution will not only pull an important resource away from the fight against the disease of addiction, but it will also make it difficult for Selene to provide for her family.

Esther Lee, Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) member


Esther Lee, reporter and WGAE member. Courtesy of Esther Lee

Esther Lee is a ThinkProgress reporter, member of Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), and has been a beneficiary of the DACA program since 2012. When Esther was two years old, she escaped domestic violence with her mother by coming to the United States from Taiwan. Esther spent her childhood in California.

After she graduated from high school, Esther was able to attend New York University. She paid for her education with money earned working, along with financial assistance from family.

Esther earned her DACA approval in 2012. Her work authorization from DACA meant that she could pursue her journalism career.

“Coming out of the shadows meant that I was able to get a job that didn’t leave me at the whim of my employers,” Esther notes.

For Esther, the stability provided by DACA has proved instrumental in getting her where she is today as a reporter with ThinkProgress.

As these stories describe, Dreamers are Americans in every way. Dreamers are our neighbors, friends, and professional colleagues, and they are working to improve the place we all call home.

It’s time to make Dreamers Americans on paper too by passing the Dream Act. We urge you to help make this a reality by contacting your members of Congress and asking them to support the Dream Act.


Repostd from DPE

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work