Coming together for immigrant rights


"Know Your Rights" training provided by Make the Road New York


On August 7th, the Consortium for Worker Education hosted a meeting of some of New York City’s leading immigrant service organizations – including community organizations and labor unions – to discuss best practices and plan next steps for protecting immigrant communities.
Longtime CWE partners Make the Road New York, the Legal Aid Society, and HANAC joined new partners like the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and unions including the RWDSU, 1199 SEIU, Teamsters Joint Council 16, UNITE HERE Local 100, and the Central Labor Council.
Over the past year and a half, the organizations have been responding to aggressive immigration enforcement and heightened scrutiny of citizenship applicants. Make the Road has organized defense committees within residential buildings and workplaces to help community members prepare for raids. The organization has also provided “know your rights” training to over 10,000 immigrants. Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights has created a worker center to provide specialized training and support to immigrant workers.


Teamsters discuss immigrant rights in the workplace, at training provided by CWE, the Legal Aid Society, and Make the Road New York. 


The unions have also responded to the dangers their immigrant members are facing. When 140 of their members were detained following a raid at a union meatpacking plant in Ohio in June, the RWDSU pledged whatever support its members required, including legal representation. The Teamsters became a sanctuary union last year after one of its members was deported and has been training members to know their rights during a raid. Because union members are often on the front lines of protecting other immigrants, 1199 SEIU has developed a training manual to help its members champion immigrants’ healthcare access rights in the workplace.
Funding provided by state and city government has allowed CWE to financially support several of the programs at unions and community organizations.
The groups discussed how to respond to the administration’s latest attacks on immigrant communities, including a proposal to deny legal immigration pathways to families who have used government benefits that they are legally entitled to. With so many local organizations providing immigrant legal services, CWE has developed materials listing the places immigrants can turn for help.
“It was an important moment to bring this group together, to discuss what is working and what more we need to do,” said Darly Cornell, CWE’s Education Director, who is in charge of immigrant programing. “We will keep the conversation going to make sure we are doing everything possible to support immigrant New Yorkers.”