AFSCME Local 127 Goes to Bat for Member's Job

When former President Barack Obama established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, he gave more than 800,000 people, brought to the United States as children, a way to avoid deportation and apply for driver’s licenses, work permits, and social security numbers.

This may not seem like much to most American Citizens, but for DREAMers, such as AFSCME Local 127 member Joaquin Corella, this means finally getting a fair chance at obtaining a good job with the possibility of advancement.

Joaquin immigrated to the United States with his mother as an 8-month-old infant from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, but he was not able to receive his work authorization until he was around 23 years old. “I cried with my family because of the joy this meant to me. This has made all of the difference in my life being able to provide for myself and my family,” said Joaquin Corella.

He began working for the City of San Diego in the Environmental Services Department in 2019, and not until the COVID-19 pandemic did he have an issue with renewing his work permit. Due to all of the COVID-19 protocols, the renewal process with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) department was moving at a much slower rate. Because the USCIS department was operating at a lower capacity, Joaquin’s work permit was not processed before the deadline. “…the work authorization documents have expiration dates similar to when a driver’s license expires. We must abide by these laws and my employer was going to terminate me since I had not received my extension,” said Corella.

Joaquin’s supervisor tried to get his case expedited by reaching out to the Personnel Department at the City of San Diego, but the real difference maker was when the Union stepped in. Business Representative Leticia Munguia went the extra mile to make sure that Joaquin’s termination would not go through. With her political connections, she contacted the office of Congressman Juan Vargas, who represents California’s 51st Congressional District. “I got to work with Congressman Juan Vargas’ office and asked many questions and made calls for a few days,” said Leticia Munguia. Congressman Vargas reached out to USCIS and was able to expedite Joaquin’s case and his termination was overturned. “…then, I received the best call ever. It was Joaquin to let me know that he is coming back to work,” said Munguia.

This is the Union difference; people willing to go to bat for working people to make sure they can continue to provide for themselves and their family.