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Guest Blog: Technology to empower immigrants to know their rights

Editor’s Note: June is Immigrant Heritage Month and the Forum is highlighting this guest blog to inform and empower immigrants in Illinois to help them know their rights. 

By Angel Castillo

In Donald Trump’s America, people live in fear every day. When they kiss their kids good-bye in the morning before they to go to work, they are scared.  They know that once they walk out that door, they might not see their family again. With all the fear and uncertainty, we feel compelled to do something about it.  We are using music and technology to communicate important information for immigrants to know: You have rights. 

I was born and raised in Panama. I came to the United States when I was 19 for a better life like many of my immigrant brothers and sisters. UNITE HERE Local 1, represents over 15,000 hospitality and food service workers in Chicago, many of whom are immigrants.

This week, my union UNITE HERE Local 1, released the Nada Nada ringtone jingle to help immigrants know their rights.

This campaign and the ringtone is not just to our Local 1 members, but for their friends, families and neighbors in the communities where they live.  We want to spread it a far and as wide make sure everyone knows what rights they have and we have purchased bus shelter ads to promote this effort. You can download the ringtone at www.unitehere1.org/ringtone . On our website, you’ll see the bilingual video we created to encourage everyone to download and help share the ringtone.

We hope this jingle is a positive way to communicate what immigrants can do if they are approached by immigration agents.  We made this easy enough to use as a cell phone ringtone so that it spreads by word of mouth when your phone rings in a crowd of friends.  We hope the repetition of it allows people to remember what to do in a time of extreme stress.

Chicago’s leaders have stood strong to protect immigrants.  They know that a vibrant, growing city needs new people who desire to call it home. But Donald Trump and his supporters in government cannot be fought by our elected leaders alone.  We need grassroots support to make sure that everybody is treated fairly and compassionately.

I invite you to join our effort to spread the word:  Download the Nada Nada ringtone and share it with your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.

Angel Castillo is the Organizing Director for UNITE HERE Local 1, the hospitality workers’ union in Chicago. He has been organizing workers in this city for 18 years. He lives in Albany Park with his family.