Black Rainbow Ball funds Sodexo worker’s legal status

By Shafaq Patel

The Black Rainbow Ball raised enough money to fund a Salvadoran Sodexo worker’s Temporary Protective Status, which allows this employee and thousands of others to live and work in the country legally.

The charity dance raised about $600, according to Aliyah Browne, president of Emerson’s Black Organization With Natural Interest. The money will go towards a Sodexo employee who worked at Emerson for the past eight years.

The Sodexo worker wished to remain anonymous, but allowed student Laura Londoño to inform the Beacon about their background. Londoño, president of Understanding National Immigration Through Education, remains the only cultural organization member with knowledge of their identity.

TPS is a program that grants people from countries affected by armed conflict or natural disaster with temporary residency. In early January, the Trump administration said it will allow Salvadorans with TPS to stay until Sept. 9, 2019. To stay legally, people with TPS from El Salvador have until March 19 for renewal. The re-registration application of TPS costs $495, which does not include potential legal fees.

The money for the TPS renewal came from the Ball’s entrance fees, ongoing donations from EBONI’s alumni association, and other people interested in helping Emerson Sodexo workers. Browne said there may be extra money left over after funding for the particular Sodexo worker’s TPS renewal and legal fees.

“I don’t know where [the leftover money] will go, but I can only assume that Laura and I will meet and discuss the best place it will go,” Browne said.

Londoño said in an interview before the Ball there may be more workers with TPS, but she only knows of this one who has yet to complete the reapplication. Londoño said currently, TPS workers are scared to reveal themselves—making it harder to find other people who need help.

President M. Lee Pelton said the college does not have information on Sodexo workers because they’re under Sodexo’s contract, not the college’s. After talking to Pelton and realizing this, Browne decided to act. She said EBONI and the student population could stand by this cause if the college could not directly take action.

“This is important because every member of the Emerson community is important, not just the students or the higher-ups, but the people that make everything run smoothly on a day-to-day basis,” Browne said. “It is our job as a community to take care of our own and it would be hypocritical to say … we care about immigration and protecting people’s status and not take care of people in our own community who need that.”

Browne said EBONI reached out to other cultural organizations so they could all stand for this cause.

“[The cultural organizations have] been struggling to maintain unity and present a united front and we wanted to show that we were still doing this after the [#ThisIsEmerson] protest as well,” Browne said.

Evelyn Hernandez, a member of UNITE, is glad they were able to fund the re-registration.

“It just goes to show that when we all get together, we [can] actually accomplish something. I’m so happy that we met our goal,” Hernandez said.