December 2016: From Michael’s Desk

I think that most of us who stand in support of the rights of working people have spent some time recently in a bit of shell shock over recent turns in our national government.  Now it’s time to shake it off, dust off our pants and get ready to do our work.  A real firestorm is coming and we must prepare ourselves to leap to the front of the battle.

Part of this is internal -- replacing despair and disgust at what our fellow citizens have done with fortitude, resolve and a trust in the ultimate good sense and inherent power of working people working together for a better world.

But there are also some things we need to be doing to get ready.  Below is a short list of suggested tasks.

  • Most DACA recipients will meet the minimum requirements for filing an application for cancellation of removal in deportation hearings in the event that program is cancelled, as has been promised by the President-elect, and if ICE moves aggressively to detain and deport those individuals. Ultimately, these applications require favorable discretion and are difficult to win, but we need to organize, train and support legal advocates for folks caught up in this process.
  • We may well see a revival of workplace raids of an earlier era. It makes sense that the new administration, unable to deliver on the promise of rounding up and deporting 11 million people, will resort to visible, high profile actions to look like they are doing something.  Our experience is that this is quite detrimental not only to the morale and sense of security of immigrant workers, but is very toxic to enforcement of rights in the workplace.  We have to be ready to challenge these actions on constitutional grounds where we can.  More importantly, workers need to understand what they should do if they are caught up in enforcement actions at work.  Unions have an important role to play here. So do other worker and immigrant rights organizations.
  • Much has been made of a Trump massive repeal of protective workplace regulations on an immediate basis. Actually, while the administration enjoys significant discretion in enforcing and reshaping its regulations, there are significant legal impediments to changing federal regulations.  This is a fairly distinct area of law, and we need to be on top of arguments to be made in slowing down destructive rule changes, and make space for taking on cases in this area.
  • While we will definitely be on the defensive at the federal level, ironically, that may make it easier to win advances locally. We should double down at home on what we can achieve for workers.
  • In the end, it will be the determined resistance of our community, working together, that imposes the greatest limitation on the damage the new administration can do. We must reinforce and reinvigorate our alliances.

Looking ahead to working with you in the difficult times that lie ahead,

Michael Dale
Founder, Executive Director, and Senior Attorney, NWJP