Blog & Updates
Labor Unifies to Support Immigration Reform
April 14, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas
Photo by DRP
Photo by DRP
A powerful and unified ally – organized labor – has come out in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Today’s New York Times reports that for the first time, the country’s two biggest labor federations (AFL-CIO and Change to Win) are working together to support comprehensive immigration reform. Julia Preston and Steve Greenhouse from the New York Times report,
A.F.L.-C.I.O. officials said they agreed with Change to Win leaders that, with more than seven million unauthorized immigrants already working across the nation, legalizing their status would be the most effective way to protect labor standards for all workers.
“We have developed a joint strategy with the approach framed around workers’ rights,” said Ana Avendaño, associate general counsel of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.
—Immigration Accord by Labor Boosts Obama Effort, April 13, 2009
This is huge. Labor is the authentic voice of working class Americans and their support for reform will be critical to Congress debating and passing a bill starting later this year.
Continuing the trend of editorials supporting President Obama in calling on Congress to begin crafting an immigration bill, the New York Times congratulates the Administration for setting aside divisive politics and understanding that reform of our immigration laws is urgently needed. The editorial also welcomes the “calmer voices outlining smart reform” referring to the labor’s unity announcement:
The ingredients of reform are clear: legalization for the 12 million, to yield bumper crops of new citizens, to make it easier to weed out criminals and to end the fear and hopelessness of life in the shadows; sensible enforcement at the border that focuses resources on fighting crime, drugs and violence; a strengthened employment system that punishes businesses that exploit illegal labor; and a future flow of workers that is attuned to the economy’s needs and fully protects workers’ rights.
…We expect to hear more from Mr. Obama soon. It will take courage to defend the wisdom and necessity of fixing the immigration system. It will take even more courage to engage in the serious fight to do so. It is what the country needs and what American voters elected Mr. Obama to do
—Immigration Reform and Hard Times, April 13, 2009
We are heartened by the news that both the President and labor recognize that our immigration problem needs to be confronted head-on. Congress must act. Our current system allows workers to be exploited by unscrupulous employers, which in turn undermines labor conditions for all workers, native and immigrant alike. Reform of our immigration system is needed to even the playing field for all workers and guarantee labor rights.