Sang Hyug Jung: As I join the Fasting

Tuesday, Nov. 12, was the launch of “Fast4Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.” Below is a story of one faster and why he is fasting. To learn more about Fast4Famlies and how to get involved visit their website http://fast4families.org/

Mr. Sang Hyug Jung on the far left with other fasters.
Mr. Sang Hyug Jung on the far left with other fasters.

By Sang Hyug Jung

One day in February 2004, I came to the U.S with my family and I was full of hope for a better future. I felt nervous in my new journey, but still confident that everything would be fine. I had visited the U.S a year earlier to prepare my immigration papers and met with several experts to plan ahead. They told me that everything would be fine and on schedule as long as I paid the immigration fees. I was naïve enough to believe the advice and in part I did that because I thought that the U.S. as the most powerful nation in the world would have a well functioning and reliable immigration system.  Therefore, I thought that I just needed to wait until my application was approved; in my mind, it was just a matter of time.

For the time being, everything seemed to going well or so I believed. The consultants always told me not to worry, reminding me that they had gone through the process to become U.S citizens. Time flied, and two years had passed since I had begun my petition. When the third year came without any notice from USCIS, I began to worry about our application and began to have doubts about the advice of the immigrant consultants. I asked around to figure out what had gone wrong and learned that my case had gone nowhere. I was devastated.

Feeling a mixture of despair and anger, I asked for a refund for the fees since my petition had been denied. But the consultant insisted that my case was still pending so that he couldn’t return the money. He even threatened me that he would report to the police about my status if I kept requesting a refund. I had no choice but give up on the money. The reality of my situation knocked me down hard, but I had to figure out a way to stay here.

After difficult searches, I found a company which could file a petition for me and started working for the company. I felt relieved. I worked for the company for two years. Everything seemed well and my lawyer told me to put my worries away.

Later, I got a work permit, which made me think that everything was on track. One day, my lawyer asked me to bring all tax-related documents to submit to USCIS and I did. However, my lawyer soon informed me that my company was not eligible to sponsor my petition. It didn’t have enough income to hire me. Again, I lost my petition and my hopes were shattered. I felt like I was thrown into a turbulent sea: and there was no way to get out alive. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and my health began to deteriorate.

Since then, I fell into depression and was unable to do anything. I stayed at home feeling miserable. Many times, I thought about going back to Korea, but it had been already five years since I came to the U.S. and my children had become settled. My older son was about to graduate from high school and younger one was going to enter junior high school. Fortunately, both my children did well in school.  I did not have enough money to send my son to college and he needed to find a school that could provide a full scholarship. He was admitted to several schools, but none could provide a full scholarship; he would have to give up his plans to go to college.

All my dreams had turned into despair and remorse and I had hit rock bottom. There was no hope left, just despair. Then I ran into the Korean Resource Center and heard about AB 540 and in-state tuition. I jumped for joy, but that feeling didn’t last long because even the cost of in-state tuition was too much for me. Fortunately, community members had heard about our situation gave us some donations and I scrambled together all the money I had. That was how I was able to send my son to a college. Thankfully, he did well in school and that was the light that shone in the darkness that helped me endure the hard times.

Last year President Obama announced DACA and both my children were approved. My older son just graduated from college and was admitted to a graduate program to receive his doctorate. My younger daughter just entered college. I wanted my children to go to college not to become rich with degrees but because it would open a path to their dreams. And I hoped that they would never been denied an opportunity because of their legal status.

My immigration story is not over yet. And I know there are many families like mine. In truth, I used to feel embarrassed to tell my story because I blamed myself for putting my children through such a difficult ordeal. I felt that I had failed as a father.

But I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t want to be ashamed of who I am. I want to tell you tell others that we should not be discouraged and continue to hope. I know how difficult it is to live as an undocumented immigrant. Yet, I and my family still have hope. I believe we can pass comprehensive immigration reform together.

Let’s not hide any more in the shadows. We’re undocumented, but we are also human beings.  Let’s fight together to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

I also have a message to the Members of Congress. We, the undocumented are not different from you. We are just like your friends and families. We also work hard and pay taxes to make this nation better. We’ve been a part of this great nation. If you continue to deny our rights as human beings, if you use us for your political advantage, if you continue to break our families, you will find yourself isolated and you will be held responsible when immigrant families stride to polling places.

Support Workers at Potomac Disposal

The crew contracted to pick up trash in Montgomery County has been in contract negotiations for the last several months. Earlier this month, they received the company’s last, best offer, but it wasn’t remarkably different than the initial offer and didn’t include the affordable health insurance and fair wages that were top priority for the workers.

Read one of the worker’s stories and show your support here.

PDstrike_jacobMy name is Jacob Alvial, and I’m a garbage truck driver currently on strike at Potomac Disposal. Collecting trash is dangerous and demanding work, and my co-workers and I want the resources we need to take care of ourselves and our families.

We’ve gotten a lot of support and encouragement from the Montgomery County Council, our Maryland State Delegates, and residents like you. However, Potomac Disposal and Unity Disposal still won’t meet us halfway to sign contracts that include affordable health insurance and fair wages.

Potomac Disposal even said they don’t have to compromise with us because they aren’t feeling any pressure from our strike.

So now, we need to show them that YOU, their customers, do care how they treat their workers.

These companies work for you, and are required to staff customer service lines. Please call them and tell them that their employees deserve affordable health insurance and fair wages.

Potomac Disposal: 301-294-9700

Unity Disposal and Recycling: 301-490-8604 or 301-990-2049

Then, sign the petition at http://bit.ly/1fSLuDL to let us know you called.

We can’t trust these companies to count your calls accurately. Signing on will make sure we can tell Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett exactly how many residents support us.

Join us as we support our brothers and sisters at UFCW

Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 1.12.09 PM

Tell Giant and Safeway to reward the workforce that has made them both, two of the most profitable retail grocery chains in the entire world!

Local 400 along with UFCW, Local 27 are currently negotiating with the major employers of the retail grocery industry throughout the Metropolitan Washington and Baltimore, Maryland areas. These contracts expire on October 31 , 2013. 
 
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 400 is requesting that you contact Giant Food and Safeway in support of our working families.

Here is what you can do:

Join them to leaflet:

  • Sunday, 10/27 from 4:00-5:30pm at the Columbia Heights Giant (1345 Park Rd NW)
  • Tuesday, 10/29 from 6:00-7:30pm at the Georgetown Safeway (1855 Wisconsin Ave NW)

Send the letter Dear_Giant_and_Safeway supporting Giant and Safeway employees to:

Mr. Dean Wilkinson
Executive Vice President
Sales & Operations
Giant Food, LLC
8301 Professional Place, Suite 115
Landover, MD 20785

Mr. Steve Neibergall
Eastern Division President
Safeway, Inc. Eastern Division
4551 Forbes Blvd
Lanham, MD 20706

DC City Council Hearing on Living Wages for Tipped Workers

October 28 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Paid Sick Days and The Living Wage for Tipped Workers Campaign is heading into the final days before the hearing on Oct. 28th. We got to this point because of your commitment and we are going to need you to continue to be involved, to ensure all workers have Paid Sick Days and an opportunity to earn a living wage!

proto: Woong Chang
proto: Woong Chang

If you’d like to testify at the hearing, please sign up HERE. To keep track of individuals who are testifying or would like to be present, please email jeremiah@rocunited.org if you plan on testifying or attending the hearing.

FACT: The minimum wage for tipped workers in Washington, DC is currently just $2.77 an hour

FACT: The tipped minimum wage has not been increased in over 20 years

FACT: DC Restaurant workers are unhealthy and unable to purchase affordable health insurance

FACT: Many DC restaurant employers ignore the law. 

FACT: The Restaurant industry is a segregated by gender and race. 

Get more of the facts from the  ROC-DC fact sheet.

– See more at: http://rocunited.org/event/city-council-hearing-on-living-wages-for-tipped-workers/#sthash.Zj6RqVRJ.dpuf

100 Women, Including More Than 20 Undocumented Immigrants, Arrested for Protesting House’s Inaction on Immigration Reform

Women Together Action

Hundreds more women and children called on the House to pass fair immigration reform that values women and keeps families together

WASHINGTON, DC—Approximately 100 women were arrested yesterday morning after blockading the intersection outside the House of Representatives to protest the House’s inaction on comprehensive immigration reform that treats women and children fairly.

The act of civil disobedience included the largest number of undocumented immigrant women to willingly submit to arrest. The 100 women who were arrested came from 20 states across the country to draw attention to the fact that women and children constitute three-quarters of immigrants to the U.S. and disproportionately bear the burden of the failed immigration system. An additional 200 supporters stood witness for the group and called on the House to match their courage by passing fair and inclusive immigration reform.

APALA-DC’s Vice-President of Community Outreach, Jessica Cendana, was among the 100 women arrested:

Wow, I got arrested.

Today I stood side by side with 100 other women including leaders of immigrant rights, community advocates and undocumented immigrant women to demand the House to pass immigration reform that is inclusive of the unique needs of women and families.

Like many immigrant parents, mine wanted to move to the United States to give my brother and I an opportunity to thrive and better our lives. We are now living that dream, however, our current immigration system does not allow the same equal opportunity for all families.  In fact, it tears them apart and children worry that they will have to continue living in the shadows and that their families will be separated due to outdated laws. 

We must demand that the House be able to work on more than one piece of legislation at a time, have more honest dialogue and ensure the voices of those directly impacted are involved. I am an ally and got arrested today for friends, DREAMers, and the 11 million undocumented immigrants. The time in now.

Prior to the act of civil disobedience, more than 300 women and children gathered for a press conference in front of the Capitol Building, where national leaders – including Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, ranking minority member on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security; Pramila Jayapal of We Belong Together; Bertha Lewis of the Black Institute; Terry O’Neill of NOW; Rocio Inclan of National Education Association; and three undocumented women – spoke out about how women disproportionately bear the burden of the failed system, despite their considerable contributions to the wellbeing of their families, communities and the country.

“Each one of us here today understands what incredibly high stakes we are talking about—immigration reform is not just a piece of legislation but the ability for us to take care of our families,” said Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of We Belong Together: Women for Common-Sense Immigration Campaign. “Women contribute every day to our families, our economy and our country. Immigration reform is about being able to live, breathe free, and remember the values that brought us all here in the first place: democracy, freedom, and justice.”

Faith leaders led the entire group in taking an Oath for a House United. Following the arrests, children delivered “red hearts of courage” to House leadership and key swing representatives to embolden them to take action for comprehensive immigration reform.

 “Women have fought for centuries to be recognized, to have the right to vote, to work and be paid for it, to realize their full potential. We must continue to fight for millions of immigrant women to get that same recognition,” said Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women. “I am proud to stand with them and demand that the House pass immigration reform that treats women fairly.”

Women who participated in the civil disobedience are demanding that the House of Representatives shows courage in passing fair immigration reform that includes the priorities of women: a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented women, a strong family immigration system which remains the primary way that women obtain legal status, and strong protections for women workers and victims of violence.

Currently, 51% of undocumented immigrants are women, but less than one-third of employment visas are issued to immigrant women each year. Seventy percent of immigrant women therefore enter the U.S. through the family visa system, which is so backlogged that women and children can wait decades to be reunited with their families.

“I am 11 years old, and I am a U.S. citizen, but I cannot live my life because my father is in deportation proceedings, said Josie Molina Macaraeg, a leader with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. “To me, courage is all of the children who go to school every day wondering if their parents will still be there when they come home at the end of the day.  And courage is also my mom, who is here risking arrest today so she can fight for my future, our family’s future, and the rights of all families to be together.”

The civil disobedience action highlights the moral urgency of the call for House leadership to move forward a fair immigration reform bill, rather than inaction or piecemeal and inhumane enforcement bills such as those currently in the House.

This would follow on the Senate’s overwhelmingly bi-partisan passage of a comprehensive immigration bill in June of this year.

“We cannot build a strong country when children and families do not even know what tomorrow will bring,” said Rocio Inclan, Director of Human and Civil Rights at the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union. “The time is now for fair immigration reform that treats women, children and families fairly.”

Over 30 Leaders Arrested in a Major Civil Disobedience Action in DC for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

(photos courtesy of http://americasvoiceonline.org)

House Republicans continue to stall progress on immigration reform and a path to citizenship while our families continue to be ripped apart. Yesterday, over 30 leaders, including prominent leaders from the labor movement, tired of being ignored, were arrested in a major civil disobedience action in DC for comprehensive reform that creates a road map to citizenship for 11 million immigrants.

Our unjust immigration policies are leaving children without their parents, wives without their husbands and brothers and sisters without each other. Every day, roughly 1,000 people are deported because the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives is denying the majority of the U.S. Congress a chance to vote on citizenship. 

Speaker Boehner has shown he won’t bring citizenship to a vote unless we force his hand. And some anti-immigrant lawmakers in Speaker Boehner’s party—led by the likes of Rep. Steve King—want to make sure lawmakers create a permanent second class in our country, by not allowing aspiring Americans to become citizens at all. But without a road map to citizenship, our immigration system will not live up to our ideals as Americans.

America is a nation of values, founded on an idea—that all men and women are created equal. This country is a land of freedom and opportunity. 11 million hardworking people deserve the opportunity to participate fully in our democracy. And 435 members of the House of Representatives deserve the opportunity to vote on that road map to citizenship. The time is now to end the moral crisis of deportations in our country, to stop corporations from exploiting vulnerable workers and to work together for solutions. 

How to take action NOW:

1. Sign and forward the petition asking House Speaker John Boehner to bring citizenship to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. 

2.  Call Congress at 888-787-9658 right now and tell them to stop tearing families apart. 

3.  Tweet your support. #immigrationreform; #TimeisNow. Here’s an example:

Retweet if you want #immigrationreform. CALL if you want it now: 888-704-9466. #TimeisNow for the House to act!

4. Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action with APALA-DC!

APALA Statement on the Confirmation of Thomas E. Perez

APALA Statement on the Confirmation of Thomas E. Perez
The Right Leader for Secretary of Labor
July 18, 2013- The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) commends the Senate and Majority Leader Harry Reid on the confirmation of the next Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez. The 54-46 vote clears the pathway for a historic moment of the first-ever Dominican American cabinet-level appointee and progress for all working families.

 

“Under Perez’s leadership, the Department of Labor will continue to protect the welfare of American wage earners, immigrant workers and retirees,” said Johanna Puno Hester, APALA National President. “His personal experience as a child of immigrant parents and his victories on worker’s rights reflect a real understanding and commitment to social justice. We look forward to working closely with him on issues affecting Asian Pacific Americans and communities at-large”.

Perez previously served as the Assistant Attorney Generation for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Maryland Department of Labor. His extensive track record includes broadening court access for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals and tackling language barriers within the Department of Justice through compliance with Executive Order 13166.

“Long-term unemployment remains high among Asian Pacific Americans and we continue to see cases of labor trafficking and abuse of workers from the Philippines, India and Latin American countries,” said Gregory Cendana, APALA Executive Director. “We are extremely confident that the needs and rights of all workers – regardless of their status – will be addressed with our new Secretary of Labor. Today’s vote is a huge step forward; however, the delayed confirmation has been disappointing and costly for our country. We urge the Senate to move decisively on upcoming confirmations of the President’s nominees including the National Labor Relations Board.”

 

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The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO was founded in 1992 as the first and only national organization for Asian Pacific American union members to advance worker, immigrant and civil rights. For more information, visit www.apalanet.org and follow@APALAnational