PARISH PEOPLE AND PLACES
Every second week of the month, we feature a different person or local business or institute as a way for us to better know and pray for our city. If you have a person or place to recommend for this space, please let us know!
The Workers Defense Project (WDP) stands out on Manor Rd. With its big and colorful sign, it has regularly piqued my interest as I’ve driven by it time and again. It was fun to have the opportunity to go inside, check it out, and connect with Executive Director Jose Garza this past week.
The WDP is part of a movement throughout the United States of centers working on behalf of low-wage workers. Created in 2002, the Austin center began as exclusively working on wage recovery for low-wage employees, primarily those who are undocumented. Over the years, the center expanded its work as people kept coming back with other issues and now it provides legal defense workers, offers adult education, and does policy and research work related to safety and wage issues.
It now centers exclusively on the construction industry, a sector in which 75% of the workers in Texas are foreign-born and 50% are undocumented. Adult education includes ESL, computer literacy, and safety training. The WDP runs the “Better Builder Program” through which developers are able to guarantee safe working conditions and fair wages. The work in safety seems integral here as there are more workplace deaths in Texas than in any other state annually.
When asked how we might pray for WDP, Mr. Garza requested that we pray for their members: construction workers. Since many of them are undocumented, they live in precarious situations. For me, the call to pray was a simple reminder of how as Christians, whatever one’s perspective on the issue of immigration, we are called to pray for these people who are made in God’s image and need justice, peace, and the love of God shed in their hearts. Let us pray for the flourishing of those whom the WDP serves and for true shalom in our city and country, to the praise of God and in the name of Christ.
As you pray, you might also be interested in checking out the work of the Anglican Immigrant Initiative, a grassroots initiative of the Anglican Church in North America.