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Rallies Across Western & Central New Yorkers Successful In Ending Deportation Proceedings Of An Immigrant Farm Worker Who Serves As A Board Member Of the Workers’ Center Of Central New York

Dolores Bustamante, Who Received A Two-Month Deportation Reprieve From The U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement This Week, Was Pivotal In Working To Secure A NYS Executive Memo That Disallows State Troopers To Racially Profiled Citizens

Published Friday, March 17, 2017
by WNYLaborToday.com Staff

(SODUS, NEW YORK) – Dolores Bustamante, an Immigrant Farm Worker and a board Member of the Workers’ Center of Central New York whose personal testimony was pivotal in working to secure a New York State Executive Memo in 2014 that disallows State Troopers from racially profiling and asking citizenship status, was back to work on an apple farm today (Friday, March 17th) after receiving a two-month reprieve from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) earlier this week.

On Wednesday, during a snowstorm, Western and Central New Yorkers rallied in support of Bustamante - who was facing deportation during a scheduled hearing at the Immigration Court located inside Genesee County Batavia Federal Detention Center that day.  Meanwhile, in Syracuse, a rally in support of Bustamante was held in front of the Federal Building.

Bustamante, who serves as a Board Member with both the Workers’ Center of Central New York and the Las Mujeres Divinas women’s organization, has been turned over to Immigration Authorities after being stopped by a State Trooper for a minor traffic violation in 2014.

A campaign led by the Workers’ Center of Central New York and Worker Justice of Central New York, of which Bustamante played a key role as speaker and organizer, resulted in a New York State Executive Memo (EM 14-48) in December 2014 that disallows state troopers from racially profiling and asking citizenship status.

“She is back to work today at an apple farm in Central New York,” Carly Fox, a Senior Worker Rights Advocate in the Rochester Office of the Workers’ Center of Central New York, told WNYLaborToday.com.  “It was decided she would not be deported (here and now) and if it wasn’t for those who rallied (she might have been).  (Her case will be heard in Batavia) in two months and we will be working hard in order to win.  There were ‘a lot of tears shed’ earlier this week (about Bustamante being deported), but she is one of many who are ‘living in fear.’”

Those at the Workers Center says Bustamante had come to the United States with her daughter in order to flee a situation of domestic abuse.  Once here, she became independent, working on farms and learning to drive in the Central New York Region.

Fearing detention and deportation earlier this week, Bustamante prepared a short public statement for her daughter: “Do not let what is happening now stop you.  On the contrary, may it make you stronger so that you can continue fighting for your dreams.  I’m always going to be with you, even if it is not physically.”

According to Nikeeta Slade of the Workers’ Center of Central New York: “Driving to work, driving your children to school or driving yourself or a loved one to a hospital visit should ‘never end with the possibility of people being separated’ from your family or community.”

The Workers' Center of Central New York has been on the front lines for advocating for drivers' licenses for all, regardless of Immigration Status, through the statewide campaign Green Light NY: Driving Together.

The rallies are the latest in a series of similar events, with hundreds recently taking part in actions in Columbia County (New York), New York City, Columbia, and in Newark, New Jersey.

The rallies often support individuals who ae detained in the wake of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which calls for increased cooperation of State and Local Law Enforcement in Immigration enforcement activities.

In February, Jose Coyote - a Livingston county Dairy Worker and worker leader, responded to a call from ICE to go to Batavia for a regular check-in.  When he appeared, he was immediately detained and his case was administratively closed in September 2016.

Like Bustamante, Coyote has been a leader in his community and has been at the forefront of the struggle for Immigrants’ and Workers’ Rights.

 “Dolores and Jose represent Farm and Dairy Workers who ‘make New York a leader in the agricultural industry.  They are ‘dedicated’ parents and ‘leaders’ in their communities.  ‘This is their home and we are a community united to stand with them.’  ‘We want to send a strong message that when this administration comes for one of our friends and neighbors we are united to protect and defend them,’” Rebecca Fuentes of the Workers’ Center of Central New York

Bustamante also received support from the National Alliance of Farmworker Women, which sent a letter to ICE Officials in support of Bustamante not being deported.  Bustamante, Fox told WNYLaborToday.com, is the New York State Representative for the group.

The Workers’ Center of Central New York is a non-profit organization that facilitates Worker empowerment and leadership development through trainings related to Workers’ Rights and occupational health and safety, orchestrates campaigns to combat wage theft and promotes employer compliance with the law. 

In addition, the Workers’ Center engages in organizing and coalition building to push for policies that will increase wages and workplace standards and promote human rights.

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