Steelworkers and Allies Rally in Support of Dreamers

The United Steelworkers (USW) and allies, including the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and Casa San Jose, took to the streets on Friday, Sept. 15, in support of compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform that incorporates and strengthens protections in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The rally took place in downtown Pittsburgh’s Market Square and was followed by a march to Sen. Pat Toomey’s office where the activists chanted and called upon the Republican politician to protect America’s Dreamers.

Sister Janice Vanderneck, director of Casa San Jose, a community resource center that links Latino neighbors in need with service providers, spoke to the crowd as well as Dreamer Rosamaria Cristello.
 
“DACA recipients are young people who were brought to the U.S., like myself, by their parents at a very young age without proper documentation,” Cristello said. “Calling a country ‘home,’ the only country you know, implies that this country will protect you and make you feel safe. That is not the message we are sending to the 800,000 young DACA recipients by ending the program.”
 
While many advocates focus on the massive economic damage the program would cause, Cristello wants to remind the community that the financial effects pale in comparison to the real tragedy.
 
“We need to remember that at the end of the day, we’re talking about people’s lives,” she said. “We’re talking about the health of our communities.”
 
Outside Sen. Toomey’s headquarters on Grant Street, USW Vice President Fred Redmond spoke to the crowd by touching on the urgency and significance of the battle to save the program that has given so many young people a chance at the American dream.
 
“The fight for DACA is the fight for the soul of America and a test of the morality of America,” Redmond said.
 
Like the AFL-CIO, the USW supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship for these young people and their hard-working parents, some of whom are USW members. If a comprehensive agreement is impossible, Congress should quickly find a way to adopt a narrower measure to protect the DACA recipients.

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