A Fight for Rights

Durazo visits SMC amid national labor campaign for immigration reform

Maria Elena Durazo '75, who grew up as the daughter of migrant farm workers, is leading a nationwide battle to win rights for immigrant workers as co-chair of the AFL-CIO's National Mobilization Campaign for Immigration Reform.

In the midst of a 14-city blitz of labor rallies, she came to SMC earlier this year and delivered a stirring appeal for the United States to enact "real comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship" for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Durazo, who is head of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, has risen dramatically in the ranks of U.S. labor in the past few years and is now in a position to influence immigration policy on the national level. She is an executive vice president of the national AFL-CIO Executive Council and chair of its immigration committee. Just as importantly, she was a national co-chair for the Obama for President campaign committee in 2008 and 2012, and this year she was elected a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Durazo's appearance on campus was hosted by La Hermandad, which promotes the understanding of Latino and Chicano culture on campus, and was coordinated by Karen Pedraza '15 and Guadalupe Alaniz '13.

Pedraza, who is also the daughter of migrant laborers, said Durazo's work has been an inspiration for her own activism. "My parents have worked in the field for over 20 years, and conditions have not changed," she said. "I hope one day to stand side by side with Maria Elena in building a strong farm labor movement."

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