Do Immigrants Deserve Respect?

Cosecha leaders shutting down Trump Tower!

Do we as immigrants deserve respect? This question is the topic of debate on TV, among journalists and everyday people across the country. It is debated everywhere from CNN to Univision. What do you think?

Today, eight of us participated in a peaceful protest, blocking the entrance to the famous Trump Tower in New York City; his pride and joy, the symbol of his empire. We prepared for over a month. And today, right under the nose of Trump’s private security, we blocked the doors, shut down the building, got arrested, and are likely sitting in jail as you read this.

Everyday, people in this country talk about how immigrants drain resources; about the danger we pose and the great big headache we create. These days the biggest trumpeter of this argument is Donald Trump himself. The man who makes grand speeches in front of his private jet, who brags about his billions of dollars in net worth, his real estate properties, and his golf courses. The great man who achieved wealth and power through his hard work and tremendous intellect. At least that is the story that he likes to sell.

But this story has little to do with reality. 35 years ago when Trump built his colossal tower, he hired over 200 undocumented workers in order to avoid paying taxes and cut labor costs. In fact they actually sued him for not paying his workers the full amount they were owed.

Today not much has changed. Trump is building another palace, five blocks from the White House, at a total cost of 200 million dollars. And who do you think he hired to do the actual construction work? You guessed it! Migrant workers, many of whom are undocumented.

The truth is that while Mr. Trump is gaining thousands of votes because of his anti-immigrant rhetoric, he is one of the biggest beneficiaries of our labor. Whether or not he wants to admit it, Trump depends on us. If tomorrow, his employees in Washington DC decided to quit, he would be eating his own words!

Today we are in jail because we believe that winning respect for immigrants in this country begins with us. We know that the ones who most fear us, are those who benefit most from our exploitation. At the end of the day, they know how much they depend on us.

We do not know whether Trump will win the elections, but what we do know is that his anti-immigrant rhetoric is winning. Whatever happens in these elections, Trump’s rhetoric will continue to spread.

So, what should we do? Should we stand on the sidelines, our arms crossed, waiting for the next election cycle? Should we wait for more politicians to come with more promises? In the Harvest Movement, we believe that the path to dignity begins when we make this country really feel that it cannot function without us. It is we who have the power, as consumers, to stop buying from big chains that exploit us. We are the ones with the power, as the country’s labor force, to stop working for a week so that the public finally recognizes that the economy would collapse without us. We want all of the “Trumps” across the country- restaurant, hotel, and building owners- to feel that they are not the only ones with power.

Today we are sitting in jail. We are praying for that day to finally come, when we- a people who left so much behind, who crossed borders, who left our families, who took on debt, who risked everything- can at last feel dignity in this country. That dignity begins when we wake up.

Cosecha is a new nonviolent movement that is fighting for permanent protection, dignity and respect for our migrant community. We need your support. Please click here to donate to our arrest support. You can also visit movimientocosecha.com/builtbyus for more information and how to get involved.

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