by Pablo Ros | February 04, 2013
In 2006, millions of people in cities across the nation marched peacefully in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Years passed, but little changed in policy. What does appear to be changing now is mounting political will in Washington and public receptiveness to a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America.
Comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship is the most effective way to protect all workers in the U.S.—both immigrant and native-born. Only such a program will give immigrant workers full access to the protection of labor, health and other laws; help reduce their exploitation by employers, as well as employers’ incentive to hire them instead of U.S. workers; and ensure that immigration does not depress wages or working conditions.
This week, a group of eight U.S. senators released a “Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform” calling for improvements in securing the border, a “tough but fair” path to citizenship for all unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States, and an effective “employment verification system” to prevent identity theft and end the hiring of undocumented workers, among other things.
In a statement, AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders and Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes praised the proposal as “an important first step in Congress for moving forward on fixing our broken immigration system.”
On Tuesday, Pres. Barack Obama outlined his comprehensive immigration reform plan in Las Vegas. He said our nation is ripe for taking these steps when “the differences are dwindling, where a broad consensus is emerging and where a call for action can now be heard coming from all across America.”
Reyes, who was with Obama in Las Vegas, said that AFSCME members have been “highlighting the importance of comprehensive immigration reform for decades.”
“Our vision for comprehensive immigration reform is clear,” Reyes said. “We need to create a common-sense immigration process that recognizes the hardships and contributions of people moving here, keeps families together in this country and creates a roadmap to full citizenship for all workers.”
She added: “Any proposal lacking a path to full citizenship will not gain AFSCME’s backing.”
There are thousands of immigrants who serve in AFSCME’s ranks – including undocumented workers – and thousands more who serve the immigrant community. The fight of immigrant workers is the fight of all workers, with good wages and working conditions on the line.
In the coming months, AFSCME will engage every member in calling for passage of comprehensive immigration reform. We’ll fire up our Green Machine and call on our allies to join us in organizing rallies, holding call-in days of action, signing petitions and more.