Maria Castaneda, 119SEIU Healthcare Workers East Secretary-Treasurer, received an award from New York Immigration Coalition during their 2015 Gala for her role as a driving force for immigrants and workers rights through her union. Maria Castaneda is the highest ranking Asian American woman labor leader in the U.S.
Upon accepting the award, Ms. Castaneda said, "I am honored to be recognized by the New York Immigration Coalition, whose work bringing a broad range of stakeholders to the table to advance immigrant rights is critical. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is a proud member of the Coalition. With over 400,000 members, many of whom are immigrants, in New York State, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Maryland and the District of Columbia, we are the largest local union in the world. In our work to improve and expand quality patient care, and protect the lives of our members and their families, immigrant rights is at the forefront of our mission. I accept this award knowing that together we will continue to fight for immigrant rights because it will improve our economy and raise standards for all working people."
Castaneda said immigrant rights are at the forefront of her mission and wants to use her organization and position to inspire other Filipinos, other women, other workers to step up because we have to win immigration reform.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill as well as President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, are all on hold. But Castaneda said she remains hopeful.
"Yes, it is frustrating because the DACA and DAPA are really good for the community, giving immigrants the rights to have work authorization. It’s really good for the community," she said.
Castaneda said she plans to continue to fight for immigrant rights because she believes that it will not only help the economy, it will also raise the living standards for all working people in the US.