Hundreds rally in Salem to support immigrant workers' rights
Posted May 2, 2018 10:19 a.m. EDT
Salem, OR — Hundreds of people rallied in Salem Tuesday to support immigrant workers' rights, including Gov. Kate Brown.
Attendees said they hope the peaceful gathering helps fight exploitation of undocumented workers and bring awareness to the issue.
Pedro Lopez, a demonstrator at the rally, said he came to America hoping to fulfill his American dream.
"I work in agriculture," Lopez said in Spanish. "It's not well-paid, but I have to work, because I have to take care of my family."
Other demonstrators shared Lopez's sentiment. Many say that instead of finding their American dream, they found themselves underpaid, and sometimes, mistreated at work.
"It's difficult, and sometimes, even dangerous," Javier Camacho, another attendee at the rally Tuesday, said in Spanish.
Camacho says he migrated to the U.S. from Michoacan, Mexico. He works in construction and says he's been taken advantage of many times because he used to be undocumented.
"Sometimes, they take advantage," Camacho said, referring to former employers. "Those who are from here, sometimes don't pay those of us who come from other places. I've been ripped-off a few times."
However, Camacho says that when his immigration status changed, so did the way he was treated at work.
He says he is now legally allowed to work in Oregon but attended Tuesday's for individuals who can't, as well as for his daughter, Elena, so she can have a brighter future.
Gov. Brown addressed demonstrators during the rally, promising them that she "will fight to keep Oregon a welcoming pace to call our state home."
She also signed two bills that will directly impact Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, or "dreamers", and those under temporary protected status.
House Bill 41-11 allows the Department of Transportation to re-issue a driver's license to dreamers and anyone in Oregon under temporary protected status, even if the federal government were to cancel the programs.
State Bill 15-63 allows students in the DACA program to qualify for in-state tuition.