November 11, 2014
By AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Washington, DC – The President needs to take executive action to support immigrant rights. But he also needs to take action on immigration to ensure the rights of all of us.
In our country today, nearly 12 million people, and 8 million workers, are struggling to support their families without the protection of law. That is unacceptable. And it doesn’t just put immigrants at risk, it puts all people who work for a living at risk by driving down the standards that protect every one of us.
The AFL-CIO has been calling on the White House to halt unnecessary deportations since the spring of 2013 because we know that we are stronger when all workers stand together. And we know that executive action on immigration is connected to our larger struggle to ensure that all work has dignity.
I am calling for the executive branch to provide work authorization to, at minimum, all those who would be on a pathway to citizenship now if House Republicans had allowed a vote on the bipartisan Senate bill. In structuring his announcement, we believe that the President must include much-needed worker protections. And we know that now is not the time to expand guest worker programs that stifle wages and create a captive workforce.
It is well established that the President has the legal authority to end this crisis by granting temporary relief to a broad class of workers. It is also equally established that current enforcement of immigration law is at odds with our American vision of a just society and our values of family, hard work and fairness.
The America that the labor movement believes in does not criminalize people or deny them basic due process rights based upon their country of birth. We stand united because we know that we are all better off when we have fewer people behind bars, and because we find it disgraceful for private detention centers to profit from locking up our neighbors.
How the President implements immigration laws will be a major part of his legacy. The President’s job is to implement laws effectively, and the deportation crisis demonstrates that our immigration enforcement system is broken. When given a chance to fix it, Republican extremists refused. Now the President must act.
Executive action will be good for families and communities, good for workers and the economy, and good for the country. There has been enough consideration. The time for discussion, debate, and delay is over. Now, it is time to act.