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Naked City

Advocates of day laborers unite

By Cheryl Smith, June 3, 2005, News

Austin's Central Texas Immigrant Workers' Rights Center announced last week that it stands in solidarity with newly formed grassroots group Boycott Arizona Now (aka United for Human Dignity), which has launched a campaign to boycott the state of Arizona in response to legislators' passing a law to ban day-labor centers. Recently enacted HB 2592 makes it illegal for Arizona cities and counties to establish work centers that cater to undocumented immigrants, such as Austin's Day Labor Center. "We are standing in solidarity with other workers in Arizona and around the country to send a strong message that we will defend the rights and dignity of workers and fight to repeal anti-worker and anti-immigrant legislation," said Julien Ross, Coordinator of Austin's CTIWoRC, who estimated that between 400 and 500 day laborers take on odd jobs all over Austin every day.

CTIWoRC, pronounced "City-Work," teaches local day laborers about their rights as workers in Texas as well as how to recoup lost or unpaid wages. First and foremost: "A person has a right to look for work to support their family without being arrested and ticketed. We need to make a distinction between those who wish to work hard to feed their families and those who might be on the street for a different reason," Ross said.

According to a United for Human Dignity press release, the boycott will last until Arizona overturns anti-immigrant laws, including HB 2592 and Proposition 200, which requires state and local government employees to ask individuals applying for public benefits about their immigration status. The boycott will start with three principal components, as quoted here from the press release:

"A. The first component calls for a petition in Mexico to cancel the Arizona Cardinals first ever NFL regular season game outside of the United States in Mexico City's famed Aztec Stadium. This boycott of the game not only targets the State of Arizona Racist Anti-Migrant laws but specifically protests the insensitivity of playing the game on October 2, the day Mexican people commemorate the 1968 Student Massacre in Tlatelolco during the 1968 Olympics. The official claims of students killed by government troops are over 400 dead and thousands of disappeared.

"B. The second component targets visiting conventions and conferences as long as Proposition 200 continues to be law. We are asking conventioneers to reconsider coming to Arizona as long as Arizona Lawmakers criminalize the migrant community.

"C. The Third Component is to petition future musical events and international sporting events to look elsewhere as long as Proposition 200 and its anti-migrant offspring are still in effect. We are asking them to look for alternative venues outside of Arizona or within the more than 20 Indigenous Nations within Arizona as an alternate site."

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