Oakland City Council Approves Measure Encouraging Sanctuary Workplaces

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – As the battle grows over sanctuary cities, a resolution passed by the Oakland City Council Tuesday night urges employers to refrain from voluntarily working with immigration officials.

Maria Martinez, who works in hotel housekeeping, said it happened to her at a previous job as soon as she and other employees started organizing and asking for fair wages.

“The owner of that hotel got in contact with ICE immigration officials,” Martinez told KPIX 5 through a translator. “And ICE came to the hotel and checked everyone’s paperwork, while we were trying to stand up for our rights.”

Outside Tuesday’s meeting, immigrant rights groups rallied outside City Hall, calling for protections for immigrant employees.

“We want to make sure that the employer doesn’t work with ICE or immigration when they come to the worksites. That the companies don’t do self-audits and that workers are able to work without fear,” an advocate said.

Oakland City Councilmember Abel Guillen introduced the measure calling for “sanctuary workplaces, where workers are respected and not discriminated against or threatened based on their immigration status.”

“Workers, regardless of their immigration status, have rights,” Guillen told KPIX 5.

When asked if the measure is a symbolic one or has any teeth to it, Guillen responded, “It’s simply encouraging employers to do the right thing and to take care of their employees.”

“This is more of a moral call to action to employers to say this is who we are as a city,” said Asha Dumonthier of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustaniable Economy. “This is what we believe in, we stand for immigrants, we stand with workers and please be a part of that.”

Inside the chambers, the council quickly approved the resolution.

The groups rallying at Tuesday’s meeting said this is just the beginning. On May 1st, tens of thousands of Bay Area workers are expected to walk off the job many to advocate for immigrant rights.

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