The Mexican Consulate of San Bernardino hosted a community outreach event on Monday, Aug. 26, to remind immigrants to the United States where they can turn for help finding their way. The event was attended by community agency representatives and several members of legal counsel from around the San Bernardino Valley, all aiming to help get the word out about what the Mexican Consulate does for those who have immigrated here.
Adolfo Herrera, a deputy with the California Labor Commissioner's office in Riverside, sums up the outreach effort as a coming together of agencies serving those coming into the United States.
"What we have here is a collection of agencies and consuls; we have the Mexican consul and the Guatemalan consul, the federal government is our partner agency," according to Herrera. "They pretty much mirror what we do."
The Consulate is not concerned about immigration status according to Herrera, but rather about informing people about their rights in the United States.
"The most important aspect, I think, is to let them know to not be afraid to come out and assert their labor rights."
State and Federal laws protect whistleblowers, those individuals who point out to their employers or any enforcing agency any violation of labor codes.
"If you work in California, you're eligible to get paid. That's our focus," says Herrera.
Herrera points out one major issue immigrant workers face in the state of California that his office enforces: Minimum wage. In 2019, the Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour, while California is $11.50-$12/hour.
"We also enforce city ordinances that could be a little higher than that," Herrera says. "If it benefits the employer they'll defer them to us, but they [cities] also have enforcement powers as well."
According to Hugo Rene Oliva, Deputy of the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino, the biggest obstacle immigrants have to protecting their rights is lack of information.
"It's very important for the Mexican Consulate to talk with all the workers, because all of them have rights," says Oliva. "It's very important for them to come to the Consulate, in order to receive information for lawyers, agencies and everything is important because… We are talking about California, that is the fifth [largest] economy around the world. We're very proud of those workers."
The Consulate reminds all they serve: Knowledge is power.
The Consulate is at 293 N. D St. in San Bernardino.
To learn more, visit consulmex.sre.gob.mx/sanbernardino.