If Netflix’s ‘Immigration Nation’ shows us the bad side of people, making us morose and hopeless about the situation, it also gives us the figures that have decided to take the reins of the condition and try to do as much good as they possibly can. These are the people who work closely with immigrants, becoming their support system in securing their rights and, often, giving them the power to stand up for themselves. One of those people is Saket Soni. Who is he and how has he become an important figure in the immigration issues? Let’s find out.
Who is Saket Soni?
Originally from New Delhi, India, Saket Soni has been profiled as an “architect of the next labor movement” in USA Today. His illustrious career began as a community organizer at the Coalition of African, Asian, European, and Latino Immigrants of Illinois, in Chicago. Now, he oversees operations from Washington DC.
It was in 2006, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that he decided to jump into his current work of the rights of immigrant workers. He co-founded the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, directly working with the migrant workers to get their due for their jobs, while also protecting them from the firing and blacklisting that they would have to suffer as retaliation.
Apart from the campaigning for the publicly funded construction industry for African American workers, he has also focused his efforts against human trafficking. In 2011, he founded the National Guestworker Alliance, to focus on the rights of the guest workers in the country, and has proved himself to be an expert on post-disaster economies, immigrant rights and the future of work.
Apart from this, he has also co-written ‘And Injustice For All: Workers’ Lives In the Reconstruction’, and ‘Never Again: Lessons of the Gustav Evacuation’, both of which focus on how disasters have led to the injustice and imbalance in the society which he fights every day.
What is the Resilience Force?
Resilience Force describes itself as “a national initiative to transform America’s response to disasters by strengthening and securing America’s Resilience Workforce—the millions of people whose work, heart and expertise make sustainable recovery from disasters possible.”
While ‘Immigration Nation’ shows us how invested the organization is with immigrant workers, they are also involved with firefighters and other responders in the case of a disaster. The Force also includes everyone from daycare workers and health care workers, to the people who simply spread the word about housing and jobs for displaced people. In the docuseries, we see them working with the construction workers who are cheated out of their pay. These are the people who restore houses and office buildings after disasters have upended them. However, due to their citizenship status, they often become easy victims.
Where is Saket Soni Now?
Saket Soni and the Resilience Force continue to work on this issue, which has become all the more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The workers are forced to work without any safety gear, exposing themselves to the virus and resulting in further spread of it, simply because they are not considered essential enough to be given those considerations. The fact that the relief packages from the government do not include them is what makes their situation all the worse. In his article for CNN, Soni has discussed this problem in detail. “Documentation should not be a barrier for relief. Undocumented people generate revenue and growth, pay taxes, and make immense contributions to their communities. Like other Americans, they also face pressing health care and financial needs during the pandemic. Without assistance, millions will suffer unnecessarily during this time,” he writes.