April 29, 2002
Mexican Legislators to Discuss Supreme Court Decision on Undocumented Workers
A delegation from the Mexican government will discuss the ramifications of a recent Supreme Court decision in a program titled "Do Not Bring Us Your Poor, Your Tired, or Your Huddled Masses: Do Undocumented Workers Still Have Rights in the United States?" in Room 128, on Friday, May 03, at 2:00 p.m. The speakers will include Senator Francisco Fraile García, vice-chair of the Senate Labor and Social Planning Committee, as well as other legislators. The discussion is free and open to the public.
A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court denied back pay to a Mexican man who had been wrongly fired for unionizing activity, but later admitted that he had never been authorized to work in the United States. The decision went largely unnoticed in the United States, but has provoked a strong political reaction in Mexico.
The case was Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, which was decided on March 27. Jose Castro had entered the United States illegally and used a false birth certificate to gain employment at Hoffman. He was fired along with others for union activities in 1989. Hoffman was ordered to reinstate all the workers and give them back pay. However, Castro admitted to an administrative law judge that he was an undocumented worker. The NLRB ruled that Hoffman did not have to reinstate Castro, but did have to tender him back wages up to the time he had made his illegal status known. The Court of Appeals upheld this decision, but the Supreme Court overturned, reasoning that the award of back pay ran counter to the purpose of U.S. immigration laws.
The Washington Post gave the decision 500 words of coverage. The New York Times wrote about it in a few paragraphs. The News, Mexico's national English language newspaper, covered the story extensively, detailing the protests of unions and Hispanic groups over the decision. The Mexican embassy in Washington decried the decision, saying that it could "foment a situation of abuse, exploitation, and marginalization of a great number of undocumented Mexicans." The Mexican government further decided to protest the decision by appealing to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
On Friday, May 3, a delegation of Mexican legislators will discuss this decision and its likely impact on both the U.S. and Mexico. The program is titled "Do Not Bring Us Your Poor, Your Tired, or Your Huddled Masses: Do Undocumented Workers Still Have Rights in the United States?" The speakers will include Senator Francisco Fraile García, chair of the Senate Labor and Social Planning Committee; Federal Congressmen Miguel Mantilla Martínez and Eduardo Rivera Pérez; and State Congressman José Roberto Grajales Espina.
The delegation is in the United States to speak out about the decision and will also be visiting New York. While in Connecticut, they will attend the opening of the first office of Participación Azteca, Inc., a new non-profit that will provide services to Mexican immigrants aimed at integrating them into the mainstream of American life.