Christmas at Woodfin Suites 

When Woodfin Suites fired its immigrant workers, was it obeying the law or dodging a living-wage ordinance?

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Emeryville is still a beautiful city to Dominguez, but at the hotel, something has changed. "People in the office used to greet me," she said. "Now they turn their backs, like we're criminals."

Just like her friend, Melquiades also learned survival skills from her father. After a lifetime as a construction worker, he recently came to live with her, and says he's proud of her. "When I was a girl, he worked in factories in Mexico," she remembered. "He was always fighting for the rights of the people around him, always getting fired for it." His daughter's predicament must sound familiar.

Now she feels insecure about whether she's really found a home here. She said she wakes up in the middle of the night tormented by bills and problems. "I'm just living from one day to the next on what I make," she said. "I don't know what I'd do if I lost my job. Even though I'm back to work, I'm always worried about the next day. I'm just living with anxiety, all the time."

Recognition of their labor is the yardstick of acceptance that both women fall back upon. "All we want is to work," Melquiades pleaded. "We're just fighting for the right to work."

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