Miss. Black Unions Incorporate Immigrant Rights

By Jonathan Adams Mar 10, 2008

From American Prospect Mississippi’s Black labor groups are organizing alongside the state’s growing immigrant population to fight for driver’s licenses for all residents.

Throughout the 1990s more immigrants arrived looking for work. Some guest workers overstayed their visas, while husbands brought wives, cousins, and friends from home. Mexicans and Central Americans joined South and Southeast Asians and began traveling north through the state, finding jobs in rural poultry plants. There they met African Americans, many of whom had fought hard campaigns to organize unions for chicken and catfish workers over the preceding decade. It was not easy for newcomers to fit in. Their union representatives didn’t speak their languages. When workers got pulled over by state troopers they were not only cited for lacking driver’s licenses but also often handed over to the U.S. Border Patrol. Sometimes their children weren’t even allowed to enroll in school.

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