by Pat Nabong, ABS-CBN News
CHICAGO — With less than a week before Chicago’s municipal election, Filipino-Americans here say that improving working conditions for immigrants and simplifying paths to citizenship should be on the next mayor’s agenda.
Amanda Goldstein, core leader of the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment, says, “I think definitely ensuring protections of our working community … they could certainly do a lot to improve affordable housing for our communities. I would also say paths to citizenship.”
At the mayoral forum in Chicago, Goldstein represented the Filipino-American community and asked candidates what they would do to protect workers’ rights.
“Not enough is being done to ensure accountability and transparency over the enforcement of existing policies intended to protect workers.”
14 people are vying for the mayoral seat, but only four candidates were present.
“Appoint a chief diversity officer who will enforce ordinances that protect workers’ rights. Lightfoot also proposed cultural sensitivity training for police who oversee immigrant communities.”
Paul Vallas, former CEO of chicago public schools, said he will aggressively enforce labor standards, provide affordable housing and support businesses.
“I also support providing businesses with the additional support that they need so they can not only pay a living wage but they can also offer their workers some of the benefits and some of the support that some of the more affluent companies have access to.”
Businessman Willie Wilson, who ran for president in 2016, said he will prosecute exploitative employers.
Activist Amara Enyia said she will protect both documented and undocumented workers.
“If there’s an extensive exploitation or wage theft, which is more common than Ithink many of us believe, then it has to result in tangible penalties, meaning the removal or callback of any public dollars, any benefits that they may have been granted from the city.”
Digna Jimenez, a nurse who has been working in the U.S., for 31 years, said the next mayor should protect immigrants and make it easier for them to achieve legal status.
“With their hardworking abilities and capabilities, they’re an asset to this community and for the whole nation so sana naman they always have to give them, let’s say importance in this in this national elec, I mean mayoral election and eventually the presidential election.”
Citizens can vote early and cast their ballots until February 26.