Tell President Obama: Don't Deport Antonio
Here's the message we sent to our members. After you've read it, please add your voice.
Antonio Vanegas, usually soft-spoken, finally had enough. After getting paid below minimum wage for two years in a federally owned building, he participated in a one-day strike with hundreds of others.1 Antonio demanded that President Obama pay him and two million other workers, who are paid through federal contracts, a living wage—the minimum someone needs to earn to meet their basic needs.
Incredibly, Antonio, whose immigration status is in limbo, was put in deportation proceedings by the Obama administration after speaking out about it.
For over two years, Antonio was paid $6.50 an hour at a pita shop in a federal building in Washington D.C., where he served lunch every day to government officials. That’s below the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, and far below the legal minimum wage in D.C., $8.25 an hour. He regularly worked 60-hour weeks without getting paid overtime.2 Four days after Antonio finally spoke out about all of this, he was detained by federal security guards and placed in immigration proceedings.
Not only is this outrageous, it is against the Obama administration’s own guidelines. According to the Department of Labor, immigration proceedings should not be initiated against workers in a labor dispute.3
When thousands of people signed a Presente.org petition to stop the deportation of immigration activist Erika Andiola's mother, the administration was forced to respond and the family was reunited.4 We know that if we get at least 15,000 people to sign Antonio's petition, we'll once again be able to shame Obama and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director John Morton into stopping this outrageous deportation. Can you sign and share so we get there?
This isn’t just about Antonio. It’s also about the two million others he represents who are getting paid poverty-level wages through federal contracts.5 Anti-immigrant politicians falsely claim immigrants are the cause of low wages in the U.S., but Antonio's story shows us the truth. When immigrants, both documented and undocumented, organize for better working conditions, they’re frequently threatened with deportation, preventing everyone’s wages from going up.
Stopping Antonio’s deportation is the first step in supporting him and two million others fighting to earn more than poverty-level wages. They’re counting on us to step up now.
Thanks and ¡adelante!
Arturo, Gabriela, Erick, and the rest of the Presente.org Team
P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on contributions from people like you to see campaigns like this through.
1. "Low-wage workers picket outside federal buildings." Washington Post, May 21, 2013.
2. "Top Democrats React to Low-Wage Federal Workers' Strike." In These Times, May 22, 2013.
3. "Revised Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Homeland Security and Labor Concerning Enforcement Activities at Worksites." Department of Labor, 2013.
4. "Erika's Mother Could Be Deported At Any Moment." Presente.org, Jan. 11, 2013
5. "Underwriting Bad Jobs: How Our Tax Dollars Are Funding Low-wage Work and Fueling Inequality." Demos, May 8 2013.