Immigrant rights group calls for boycott
September 30, 2006 (WLS) -- A local group fighting for immigrant rights is calling for a boycott of two nationally known companies. Dunkin Donuts and Applebee's are accused of discriminating against immigrant workers whose names don't match their social security numbers.
On the 10th anniversary of what immigration reform advocates call stringent changes to immigration laws, supports of the legalization of the undocumented are once again speaking out -- only this time, they are hoping not only to mobilize their vote, but also use their buying power to force the kind of change they want.
"The social security administration says it plans to send out 8 million no match letters," said Martino Unzuerta, Chicago Workers Collaborative.
The initial purpose of the social security administration's 'no match' letter was to credit workers unclaimed social security earnings. The agency routinely sends out 'no match' letters to a company when employees' names and social security numbers don't match possibly because of a spelling error, omission of information or a unreported name change. But immigration activists say some employers are now aggressively using the letters to fire immigrant workers.
"The Bush administration wants to give the appearance that they are cracking down on undocumented immigration and workers are an easy escape goat," said James Thindwa, Chicago Jobs with Justice.
Groups accuse several companies of the practice using 'no match' letters to immigrant workers who don't have valid social security numbers. They want the public to boycott businesses, including Applebee's and Dunkin Donuts. Neither company could be reached for comment.
Some immigration rights groups at Federal Plaza say it is no mistake there has been an increase in effort to curtail immigration reform. They have planned a day of fasting in protest of the 'no match' letters, raids, and deportations.
"It looks to me like its racism," said Emma Lozano, Pueblo Sin Fronteras.
The National Alliance for Immigration Rights wants an immediate moratorium on all workplace raids and deportations. As does Elvira Arellano -- who still seeks refuge at a West Side church after being slated for deportation because she's undocumented. Her seven-year-old son, a U.S. citizen, will go to the nation's capital to try to save his mother.
"I want President Bush to stop the raid and the deportation of my mom so she can stay with me," said Saul Arellano, Elvira's son.
Those for strict control over America's borders say there has been some progress in their fight, but more must be done.
"We are gaining ground and that Americans are waking up to the problems that illegal immigration causes in our country," said Robert Klein Engler, Illinois Minuteman Project.
Saul will be accompanied by several immigration activists as well as by Congressman Luis Guitterez to Washington DC. The group plans to address the president on Tuesday.
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