Teddy Vallejos has a personal stake in reforming America’s contradictory immigration laws.
While Vallejos, an SEIU 1000 Bargaining Unit 1 member, continues working for the Department of General Services in West Sacramento, her husband has been forced to return to his native Mexico where he will likely spend the next 8-10 years waiting for approval to legally join his wife in the United States unless the rules change.
Vallejos, whose husband had been living and working in California without proper documents when they married, says her experience with the immigration system has spurred her activism both in her workplace and on the immigration issue.
The government is forcing us to live separately because we tried to play by the rules, and I wanted to obtain legal residency for my husband. I believe that the system needs to be more fair and more accommodating. Whether it is immigration or issues at work, I support eliminating unfairness that hurts people.
The couple met in 2001 while chatting casually at the apartment complex where they both lived. Soon they began dating and were married in 2006. Juan had been living and working in the United States using fraudulent documents for nearly a decade.
Once married, I told him that we needed to get him registered and legal so I wouldn’t have to worry about him being deported. Everyone kept saying ‘he is your husband it should be automatic,’ but they were so wrong.
After years of bureaucratic delays, her husband was ordered in 2009 to report to a U.S. consulate in Juarez, Mexico, where he was told he could not reapply for residency for 10 years because he had been living in the country illegally. The couple has lived apart since then, keeping in touch by phone and video chat. According to Vallejos,
No one respects our immigration laws because the system doesn’t work. That’s why we need legislation to fix it.
SEIU Local 1000 is part of a broad coalition working to help people like Vallejos and her husband, as members of Congress are negotiating an overhaul of laws governing residency and the citizenship process.
According to Miguel Cordova, chair of SEIU 1000 Bargaining Unit 21:
For more than a century, immigration and residency status were tools that were used to pit workers against one another, but now the labor movement is united in seeking immigration reform that helps all working families. We need strong laws that ensure that all workers – regardless of their national origin – are treated equally and fairly.
To learn more about SEIU’s fight for immigration reform that benefits ALL workers, go to http://www.seiu1000.me/15XpWBi
To take action, go to http://www.seiu1000.me/12Q8eLO
To see why labor unions support immigration reform, go to http://www.seiu.org/immigration/