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Politics & Government

Undocumented Workers Call for Relief, Work Authorizations

Maria Antonio came to the United States 11 years ago with her husband and her son, who is now 13 years old.

She has since had two more children, but they all face the threat of losing their father because he has been involved in a deportation case with immigration for two years.

“My children say to me regularly: ‘Mommy, are we going to be separated, are they going to send daddy away?’” Antonio said. “This is what we most fear – not just my family, but all families.”

She, her husband and her oldest child are part of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Antonio said they understand that they are in Pittsburgh without proper documentation and because of that, they must fulfill obligations.

“We see and fulfill the obligation to pay taxes, we work and we pay taxes, we, the Latino families pay our bills, pay our rent, but live and work with the constant terror that someday, police will stop us and turn us into the hands of immigration,” Antonio said.

At the beginning of the month, President Barack Obama announced that he would take executive action on immigration by the end of the summer.

Guillermo Perez, President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, said there needs to be change.

“The time has come for bold executive action to provide relief to the millions of decent, hard-working undocumented, working people who currently live in constant fear of arrest, detention and deportation,” Perez said. “And whose lack of legal status exposes them to all the worst forms of abuse and exploitation on the job.”

Various unions throughout the region gathered in the South Side Thursday, calling on Obama to enact immigration relief and work authorization to undocumented immigrants.

In 2013, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included a way to gain citizenship, but the House’s version stalled.

“The time has come for us to do something about it,” Jack Shea, President of the Allegheny County Labor Council, said. “I don’t know if there is a political resolution to this or not, I heard a couple of speakers say they didn’t think so, well, very candidly, there has to be. It’s too long they made this issue a political football.”