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Labor Leaders, Workers, and Community Leaders Stand in Support of Immigrant Workers’ Rights and Executive Actions

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography, May 2014)

On the eve of what should have been a historic expansion of deferred action to millions of workers, the labor movement continues pressing for immigrant workersprotections

(Washington, DC) – At an event today, labor leaders, workers and community activists sent a clear and loud message: the labor movement will continue pushing forward with its efforts to build worker power for immigrants and will not wait for Congress, the courts, or the elections to act.  The event took place a day before the expansion of deferred action was scheduled to start, granting millions of workers the opportunity to live and work without fear.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre was joined by UFCW Executive Vice President Esther Lopez, BAC President Jim Boland, NDLON Director of Legislative Affairs Salvador Sarmiento, and immigrant workers who are members of UNITE HERE and the Ironworkers unions together vowed to defend the new deferred action programs and continue pushing for immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship, while raising grave concerns about enforcement programs that undermine workers’ rights and destroy communities.

“Far from paralyzing us, the current legal injunction of the deferred action programs further highlight something that we in the labor movement know very well: that organizing is the only real force that moves our country forward,” said Gebre.

The three labor leaders pledged to keep pushing forward with the AFL-CIO’s We Rise! (¡Adelante!) national immigration implementation initiative. Gebre, Lopez and Boland announced that despite judicial roadblocks, labor unions across the country have opened their halls and successfully empowered immigrant workers through immigration and citizenship services; education and training; and organizing around campaigns to advance immigrant and workers’ rights.

“Tomorrow should have started a process where undocumented workers could apply for legal rights and some peace of mind,” said Lopez. “It was about taking a step forward, however modest, in the fight to fix our broken immigration system. But instead DAPA remains in limbo. And for that we say to the politicians who have held it up—shame on you. We know the lawsuit is a political stunt—an effort to scare away immigrant workers from applying for DAPA. The best way to fight back is to continue getting ready for this program. So that is exactly what we are doing. When the legal ruling finally comes down, UFCW members will either be ready to file for DAPA or fight for it.”

Carlos Castillo, an immigrant worker, who works as a day laborer and who representsTrabajadores Unidos de DC (United Workers of DC), took the stage to speak on the necessity of implementing the deferred action program so immigrants can get long overdue protections in the workplace.

“Tomorrow was to be a day of hope for people like me and for many families, but politicians have chosen to continue playing games with our lives. It’s clear now, we can no longer wait for justice from the courts and instead we must turn to each other as we organize ourselves on the job and in our communities to continue this fight for our rights,” said Castillo.

Jim Boland, who also is chair of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council Immigration Committee, stated that his union will continue pressing forward to support deferred action programs to empower hardworking immigrant workers.

“As a former immigrant worker myself, now a U.S. citizen, I am proud to stand with my union brothers and sisters and millions of hard-working immigrant workers in our ongoing struggle to secure legal status for all eligible workers now under the provisions of DACA and DAPA,” said Boland. “Labor, worker and community advocates will not be deterred from helping to expand opportunity for the nation’s most vulnerable workers. It’s unconscionable for a country that prides itself on being a ‘nation of immigrants’ – we can and will find a better way forward.”

Speakers called upon officials in all levels and branches of government to continue to do more to protect immigrant workers against retaliation.  They demanded transparency in implementation of the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) and asked the administration to use its enforcement discretion to protect workers brave enough to raise concerns about unsafe conditions, unpaid wages, and abusive treatment.

Coalition Calls For A Reversal Of Texas Ruling Blocking Executive Action On Immigration

Latino American Immigration (Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

(Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

Unprecedented Coalition of Elected Officials, Advocates, Law Enforcement, Business Groups Ask Appellate Court to Reverse Texas Ruling Blocking President’s Immigration Initiatives

Immigration Policy Center logoWashington D.C. – The Texas federal district court order that blocked parts of President Obama’s executive action on immigration was based on unproven or incomplete presentations to the court and should be reversed, civil rights and immigration advocates argue in an amicus (“friend-of-the-court”) brief in the case of State of Texas v. United States. Texas and 25 other states have sued the federal government to stop the implementation of initiatives that will provide temporary relief from deportation, but advocates maintain the President’s actions are legally sound.

Multiple legal briefs defending the deferred action initiatives were filed Monday with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by a range of advocates, leaders, and elected officials. One of these briefs was filed on behalf of more than 150 civil rights, labor, and immigration advocacy groups, led by the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Si Se Puede - Immigration (Image by Claudia A. De La Garza FLIKR)

(Image by Claudia A. De La Garza  in 2014 FLIKR)

Briefs were also submitted to the court Monday by 15 states and the District of Columbia, 73 mayors, county officials from 27 states, 181 members of Congress, and 109 law professors, law enforcement, faith and business leaders. These briefs discuss the economic and community benefits that will result from expansion of the successful DACA program and the new DAPA initiative for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

“Collectively, the parties in these filings represent more than half of the foreign-born population in our country, which means they have a demonstrated track record of producing inclusive immigration policies,” noted Marielena Hincapié, NILC executive director, during a telephonic press briefing announcing the briefs. “We are confident that we will win because the law is on our side. But we also know that the wheels of justice often move slowly. In the meantime, our message to eligible immigrants and their families is to be patient, continue gathering the necessary documents to apply, save up for the application fee, and don’t lose faith,” added Hincapié.

“We are undeterred and we will continue in this campaign [to realize the start of the DACA and DAPA programs],” added Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. An early signer of the amicus brief by local officials, the mayor said the filing before the appellate court by mayors and counties has twice as many signers as an earlier brief submitted to the Texas district court. Citing the economic and community benefits that would come from allowing immigrants to come out of the shadows, Mayor Hancock added, “This is about our communities. This is about working with those who have chosen to call our cities ‘home.’”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, said the legal filing by 181 members of Congress argues the Texas court overturned Congress’ decision to give the executive branch authority to set immigration enforcement priorities.

“What the court has done is not only an affront to what the executive has done [in setting priorities] and to the authority we have – well-grounded in law and in precedent – but also an affront to what Congress has done,” Lofgren said. “There are millions of people living in fear, who have made our economy and lived here for decades, whose lives have been turned upside down by an erroneous ruling.”

Some states claimed that the administrative relief will harm them, but the legal briefs argue the judgment was incorrect.

“That is incorrect. The states have to show irreparable harm to get a preliminary injunction; they have not,” Noah Purcell, solicitor general in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office told reporters. “The president’s directives are good for states; they are not harming states.”

The human aspect of the case also was highlighted during Monday’s press call.

 Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

“Although I was disappointed by the news that a federal district judge blocked implementation of DACA expansion, I was not disillusioned,” said Jong-Min You, an immigrant from New York who would be eligible for relief under DACA expansion. “I know that eventually, I will be able to come forward and apply for relief from deportation and work authorization, and I’m not the only one. Other elder Dreamers, along with their parents and millions of others, are ready for the legal battle ahead and for the legal battle to end so that we can finally move forward.”

Rocio Saenz, SEIU international executive vice president, said advocates for expanded DACA and DAPA will never give up.

“The plaintiff states and Republicans who support this lawsuit can ignore the will of their own constituents and immigrants’ contributions, but we will continue to defend the immigration action in the courts. We will continue to fight for immigration reform. We will continue to inform future applicants and make sure that when the time comes – and it will come – that every eligible person applies for the immigration action. We are and will continue to send a strong message to the naysayers, to Republicans who stand in the way of progress: We are not the enemy. But we are ready – ready to fight back, ready for the immigration action, and ready to vote,” Saenz said.

“Amici and the government are clearly on the right side of the law, and we are confident that a stay [of the Texas order] will be granted, hopefully by the Fifth Circuit, one day very soon,” said Melissa Crow, legal director of the American Immigration Council.

A recording of Monday’s press call can be downloaded at http://nilc.org/document.html?id=1222 .

New AFL-CIO Report Exposes Walmart’s Abuse of H-1B Visas

As the annual H-1B visa lottery opens, report shows Walmart’s obsession with cheap labor

http://go.aflcio.org/Walmart-H1B

(Washington, DC) – To mark the opening of the annual H-1B visa lottery, the AFL-CIO released a new report documenting Walmart’s abuse of the visa program.

The report “After Decimating U.S. Manufacturing, Wal-Mart Takes Aim at the Information Technology Sector” contains strong evidence that Walmart and its contractors rely on the H-1B work visa program to meet the company’s routine needs for information technology (IT) labor, potentially displacing U.S. workers. Yet, many of the IT guest workers are denied a path to citizenship. The findings undermine the arguments advanced by corporate lobbyists pushing to expand the program.

“At a time when we face unprecedented levels of inequality and decades of wage stagnation, it is irresponsible to expand access to employment-based temporary work programs that will continue to hold down wages, increase worker vulnerability, and reduce social mobility for deserving workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The report also reveals how Walmart has quietly backed corporate lobbying groups pushing to expand the program and increase the number of H-1B visas that are available. In the meantime, the number of H-1B applications for IT workers in Bentonville, Ark., where Walmart’s headquarters are located, continues to grow—suggesting that local Science, Technology, Math and Engineering (STEM) recent graduates lose out on IT jobs.

Among the most important findings:

• Between 2007 and 2014, IT contractors have filed almost 15,000 petitions (certified LCAs) for H-1B visas for work placed in Bentonville, Arkansas, home to Walmart’s headquarters and information technology center. Walmart is a known client of these controversial outsourcing contractors, including Infosys, Cognizant and Wipro.

• Walmart is driving down standards in the tech industry in the U.S. by using H-1Bs visas and contractors excessively, and violating the spirit, if not the letter of the visa program. This keeps costs low and allows for IT guest workers to be paid less.

• Walmart and its outsourced IT operations at contractors do not hold up their end of the immigration bargain: they rarely apply for green cards for H-1B visa workers. In some years, they submit no green card applications at all.

The H-1B program allows U.S. companies to bring high-skill “guest workers” to the U.S. for up to 6 years. However, the requirement for companies to search for American workers before turning to foreign labor in the H-1B program is not effectively enforced.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, AFL-CIO President Trumka testified that the current H-1B visa program “allows employers to stifle wages, create a captive workforce, and make previously full time jobs insecure and temporary.”

The AFL-CIO has been an outspoken advocate for comprehensive immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship that fixes our broken immigration system.

“As Congress resumes the debate on immigration reform, we hope the Senate will focus on the core flaws in our immigration system that contribute to economic inequality and wage stagnation, rather than advancing low-road employment models that have contributed to the erosion of the middle class,” said Trumka.

The report can be viewed here: http://go.aflcio.org/Walmart-H1B

AFL-CIO Launches Historic Campaign to Assist Workers with Immigration Executive Action and Citizenship Assistance

We Rise! national immigration initiative will build worker and community power and assist eligible immigrants with the DACA, DAPA and with U.S. Citizenship

(Washington, DC) – Today, the AFL-CIO officially launched “We Rise!,” a national immigration initiative to reach, mobilize, and organize immigrant workers to build power on the job and in the community. We Rise! will train union members and equip union halls around the country to empower immigrant workers and their families to gain rights on the job by applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs. The program will also encourage qualified Legal Permanent Residents to become U.S. Citizens.

“President Obama’s executive actions were the right thing to do, but we’re not done yet. This progress can be stalled but it cannot be stopped. With the launching of the We Rise! initiative we are moving forward,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The “We Rise!” national immigration initiative was launched with a three day training where more than 200 union members, leaders and staff from 23 different unions and activists from 27 states gathered in Washington, DC to receive practical, hands-on training that will enable them to return to their communities with plans to assist qualified applicants with the DAPA, DACA programs and U.S. Citizenship.

“We learned a lot in the workshops and trainings, from how DACA and DAPA will protect and advance workers’ rights, to how to identify eligible recipients and assist them with the application process,” said Ildefonso Magaña, an International Union of Painters and Allied Trades organizer from Phoenix, AZ. “You could feel the energy in all the sessions. There is a lot of excitement and we are all looking forward to returning to our communities to hit the ground running.”

In February, a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction on both immigration executive actions. The 5th Court Circuit has set a hearing for April 17. AFL-CIO President Trumka has stated that “this temporary setback will not deter the AFL-CIO’s work on the ground to ensure that as many workers as possible are eventually able to gain protections and work authorization under the new deferred action programs.”

As part of this commitment, unions in key states will open their halls to eligible workers, where they will learn more about their rights on the job and meet trained volunteers and legal experts who will assist them with filling out their applications and answer any questions in regards to both programs and the citizenship process.

In addition, Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, will launch “Working America We Rise!”, a project offering immigrant workers the opportunity to join the labor movement and receive benefits including legal services, credit counseling, prepaid cards with a feature for remittances, and access to dental and vision discounts. Dues-paying Working America We Rise! members are also eligible to apply for a $250 “We Rise! Grant” to help fund deferred action application fees.

“It is great to know there is assistance out there for workers who will benefit from citizenship, and the DACA and DAPA programs,” said Maria Dominguez, an American Federation of Teachers member who benefited from DACA, and now works as teacher in Austin, TX. “With these programs workers will finally be able to claim our rights at work and parents of our students will stop being deported. This is just the beginning.”

During the past year, the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions have organized citizenship workshops in several cities in the country.  The UFCW has been at the forefront of building a robust program that has helped to guide the federation’s work. The We Rise! initiative is a continuation of the labor movement’s efforts to empower all workers by pushing for comprehensive immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship.

Texas Ruling On Immigration Is Setback But Will Not Stop The AFL-CIO’s Work On Immigration

Late last night, a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the implementation of President Obama’s new deferred action initiatives. These initiatives, announced last November, came in response to more than 10 years of political stalemates and failure by Congress to address America’s broken immigration system and alleviate the pain endured by millions of families around the country. The President’s announced initiatives will provide temporary relief from deportation to approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

The new deferred action initiatives, which include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), are based on the well-established authority of Presidents and other executive branch officers to allocate and prioritize finite enforcement resources. This practice is used by prosecutors and other law enforcement personnel on daily basis. The judge’s order, issued just two days before the government was set to begin the DACA expansion, bars federal immigration officials from implementing “any and all aspects” of the new deferred action initiatives.

The following is a statement by Melissa Crow, Legal Director at the American Immigration Council:

“Today’s decision is only the first round in what will clearly be a much longer legal battle. Already, the White House has promised that the Justice Department will appeal the judge’s decision, and we urge them to do so in an expedited manner. We expect higher courts to overturn the judge’s decision based on well-established precedent.

“Today’s decision is more rooted in political rhetoric than legal rationales. It relies on a distorted view of overwhelming evidence of the economic benefits of immigration and ignores Supreme Court precedent. It also discounts a long history of recourse to prosecutorial discretion, which has been exercised by every President since Eisenhower. The decision relies on a technical violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to find that the Administration did not follow proper procedures, while ignoring the fact that the President’s deferred action initiatives are not subject to the APA. While the decision will unfortunately delay critical efforts to address our broken immigration system, the need and the demand for reform has never been greater. We remain confident that it is a question of when, not if, these programs will take effect.”

After the court ruling was announced Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO released the following statement:

This temporary setback will not deter the AFL-CIO’s work on the ground to ensure that as many workers as possible are eventually able to gain protections and work authorization under the new deferred action programs. Around the country, we will continue educating workers, training union activists and helping eligible applicants gather the documents they will need to qualify.

This lawsuit represents a misguided effort to use a false economic basis to block the immigration relief that millions of hardworking, longtime members of our community deserve. The executive actions on immigration will in fact increase earnings, grow the tax base, strengthen the economy and further the public interest, as states like Washington, California, Illinois and New York have explained to the court. The AFL-CIO supports the Department of Justice’s decision to file an appeal, and we trust that higher courts will undo this wrong.

The path to justice often includes obstacles. We will not give up the fight until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform with a clear pathway to citizenship so that all workers in this country will have the ability to assert their rights on the job and in their communities. In the meantime, this ruling will further strengthen the resolve of a resilient community that is a vital part of our labor movement. We know that an organized community is a stronger community, and that together we will rise.

Senator Shaheen Says “We Cannot Play Politics With Dept. Of Homeland Security Funding”

At New Hampshire Information and Analysis Center (NHIAC), Shaheen highlights importance of homeland security resources for public safety and preparedness

(Concord, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) this morning toured the New Hampshire Information and Analysis Center (NHIAC) to highlight the importance of approving homeland security funding for the remainder of this fiscal year in the interest of public safety and preparedness. While congress is currently facing a February 27th deadline to fund the Department of Homeland Security, certain lawmakers are threatening to add extraneous legislative riders to a funding bill that could lead to a potential agency shutdown.

At this morning’s tour, Shaheen was briefed by New Hampshire Department of Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes, New Hampshire State Police, Division Director Colonel Robert Quinn and New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Perry Plummer on the capabilities of the center, which provides strategic and tactical information regarding threats facing New Hampshire and its citizens.

“We cannot play politics with homeland security funding,” said Shaheen. “The work being done at the New Hampshire Information and Analysis Center and by the entire New Hampshire law enforcement community is so important for keeping New Hampshire and its residents safe. And it’s a perfect example of why these resources are so critical.

“In the coming days and weeks I’ll continue highlighting why we must pass a clean funding bill for the remainder of this fiscal year, and I hope lawmakers will refrain from using this bill as a vehicle to score political points on entirely unrelated issues,” she added.

This morning’s visit comes following Shaheen’s recent appointment as Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of Homeland Security. The Homeland Security Subcommittee oversees funding for the Department of Homeland Security and its related agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, among others. The Subcommittee also supports the DHS’ efforts to protect the nation’s security against terrorism and other hazards in five core issue areas:

  • preventing terrorism and enhancing security.
  • securing and managing U.S. borders.
  • enforcing and administering federal immigration laws.
  • safeguarding and securing cyberspace.
  • ensuring resilience to disasters.

Republicans Vote To Block President Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration

House Speaker John BoehnerYesterday, the US House voted along party lines to block President Obama’s Executive Action on immigration and deferred deportations of those aspiring Americans currently residing in the US.

The House voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security with a couple of major caveat’s.  The Immigration Policy Center reported:

“The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the $39.7 billion funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, including five amendments that attacked parts of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.”

This is another misguided attempt by the House Republicans to connect deferred deportation with the massive influx of migrant children from South America.

Congressman Frank Guinta released the following statement that shows how the GOP does not understand how or why these children are coming to the United States and what deferring deportations would really do.  Congressman Guinta is also trying to push the idea that President Obama’s Executive Action is unconstitutional.

“Unfortunately, the President’s unlawful executive orders run counter to this.  I made a promise to Granite Staters to uphold our Constitution and work diligently to strengthen and reform our broken immigration system.  The passage of H.R. 240 is a common-sense first step in modernizing our system to reward those who enter our borders the lawfully while holding those whom break our laws accountable.”

The American Federation of Teachers President Rani Weingarten condemned the Republican move to defund President Obama’s immigration Executive Action.

“President Obama used his legal authority to sign an executive order last year because the Republican-controlled House failed to do its job by passing legislation on immigration reform. Rather than offer solutions that address our comprehensive immigration crisis, Republicans are waging war—in courts at the state level and in Congress—on families who want to live the American dream.

“Defunding DHS is not only irresponsible—because it jeopardizes our national security by leaving our borders more porous and undermanned—it’s bad policy. The president’s executive action will save lives, keep families together and expand our economy—a formula that will help reclaim the promise of the American dream.”

The House Republican’s have shown us all once again that they are not interesting in helping these aspiring Americans and are only interested in opposing President Obama.  This week the AFL-CIO released a new report that shows a direct connection between the failed “free trade agreements” with Central American countries is leading to the influx of unaccompanied minors last summer.

The real question is how will the Senate react to the ideologically misguided legislation passed by the House?  Initial reports say the Senate will pass a clean funding authorization and strip the controversial amendments.

Immigration, Civil Rights and Labor Groups Join Legal Effort to Defend Immigration Action

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Washington D.C. – Today, immigration, civil rights and labor groups joined the legal effort to defend President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration by filing an amicus “friend of the court” brief in the case, State of Texas vs. United States. In the days after the President’s November 20th announcement, two lawsuits were filed seeking to block implementation of the new deferred action initiatives. Both lawsuits seek a “preliminary injunction”—a temporary block of the programs during the life of a lawsuit. The amicus brief, which was written in support of the federal government, provides powerful economic, fiscal, and societal reasons to allow these programs to take effect later this year.

The American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Define American, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, Service Employees International Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and United We Dream filed a brief opposing the states’ request for a preliminary injunction against the administration’s new deferred action initiatives.

In their brief, the groups provide powerful testimonials about potential beneficiaries of the new deferred action initiatives, many of whom are already entrepreneurs and community leaders. These individuals include a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, community leaders, and primary breadwinners for U.S. citizen children. The groups also explain how the deferred action initiatives will positively impact the U.S. economy, raising wages, increasing tax revenue, and creating new jobs.

Legal battles against President Obama’s action on immigration have already begun. Last week, the first case brought by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, was rejected by a federal district court judge in D.C. The second case, filed by Texas and 24 other states, is currently set to be heard on January 9, in the U.S. District Court for Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division.

These lawsuits are merely an attempt to use the courts for political ends; scores of legal experts agree that the President’s actions are well within the scope of his executive authority. Beneath the surface of the lawsuits are the same speculative and discredited myths of criminality and economic impacts that have long fueled anti-immigrant rhetoric.

To view the groups’ legal brief in full see:

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Immigration Accountability Executive Action

Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law. On behalf of America’s workers, we applaud the Administration’s willingness to act.  We have been calling upon the White House to halt unnecessary deportations since Spring 2013 because our broken immigration system is an invitation for employer manipulation and abuse, and U.S.-born workers as well as immigrant workers are paying the price.

By extending relief and work authorization to an estimated 4 million people, the Obama Administration will help prevent unscrupulous employers from using unprotected workers to drive down wages and conditions for all workers in our country.  Although this fix will be temporary, it will allow millions of people to live and work without fear, and afford them the status to assert their rights on the job.

The Administration is operating within its authority to advance the moral and economic interests of our country, and while we stand ready to defend this program, we must also be clear that it is only a first step.  Unfortunately, more than half of those who currently lack legal protections will remain vulnerable to wage theft, retaliation, and other forms of exploitation.

In addition, we are concerned by the President’s concession to corporate demands for even greater access to temporary visas that will allow the continued suppression of wages in the tech sector.  We will actively engage in the rulemaking process to ensure that new workers will be hired based on real labor market need and afforded full rights and protections.

But this announcement does move us forward – progress that is attributable to the courage and determination of immigrants who rallied, petitioned, fasted and blocked streets to make it happen.  Implementation of the executive action should begin immediately, before further delays open the door for legislative obstruction. Starting tomorrow, the administration should focus enforcement attention on high level targets, stop the community raids and leave workers, grandmothers, and schoolchildren in peace.

Going forward, we renew our call for comprehensive reform that provides a path to citizenship and real protections for workers.  We will continue to stand with all workers, regardless of status, to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are protected.  Working together, we know that we will ultimately achieve a more just immigration system that promotes shared prosperity and respects the dignity of all workers.

AFT’s Weingarten: Obama’s Action Reunites Families, Brings Workers Out of the Shadows

AFT_Logo-2

WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s executive order that expands protections to millions of undocumented immigrants:

“As a union, we’ve always been committed to opening the doors of opportunity for all children, and immigration is an issue that touches every community we serve. After the House of Representatives refused to act on comprehensive immigration reform, although the Senate had passed bipartisan legislation, President Obama—as he did with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and as many of his predecessors have done—is using his legal authority to secure our nation’s borders, to help keep families together and to expand our economy.

“A great and diverse nation, founded by immigrants seeking a safer, more prosperous life, continues to deliver the promise of the American dream. Yet our broken immigration system has hurt millions of students and families. We continue to hear heartbreaking stories of kids who don’t know if their parents are coming home or have been deported. We hear from teachers whose students stop showing up for school after their parents are sent to a country these children have never called home. Our nation’s children are counting on us. We must unite, not divide, families. The president’s plan will give many of these families the security of knowing they can stay together, and it will bring many workers out of the shadow economy, ensuring higher wages for all. We remain eager for Congress—especially the Republican-controlled House—to take legislative action and show unity on an issue so personal to American families.”

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