Cross-posted from the United Workers Congress
The United Workers Congress is encouraged that the Senate’s announcement and President Obama’s statement on immigration this week mark the long-awaited beginning of the country’s immigration reform. Our members have fought for decades to protect the rights of low wage, undocumented workers who were intentionally excluded by labor laws and denied basic human rights to work, receive fair compensation and have a safe and healthy work environment. We represent millions of domestic workers, farm workers, day laborers, taxi drivers, workfare, restaurant, guest workers and formerly incarcerated who are ready to be fully included and striving for workers’ rights and political equality.
As we press for inclusion of all 11 million, we hope to see immediate steps taken to allow full participation of workers in this debate. The President can start the debate with a stop to deportations and the secure communities program which has had a devastating effect on workers and their families. For undocumented workers to be able to fully participate in this process and share their concerns and ideas, we need to re-focus our energies on building community together rather than make workers fearful of being in the spotlight.
We know that we can improve the lives of millions of workers who help to build our homes, pick our food, take care of our children and elderly and contribute to this country in numerous ways. We need to help strengthen our communities and our economy by giving the full 11 million undocumented workers a path to citizenship and full inclusion in our society.
“We applaud the President for his commitment to creating a clear and accessible roadmap to citizenship for the millions of aspiring Americans currently living and working in this country. But this road needs to be open to all who dream of a better life in the United States—not just those with advanced degrees. And we need the President’s continued leadership to make the dream a reality,” said Ai-jen Poo Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of NDLON responded, “The President should immediately follow his speech with an order suspending deportations as the first step to open a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Demonstrating that all 11 million undocumented people deserve the same relief given to the Dreamers will set the debate in the right direction and remove divisions between ‘us and them.’ “
“We welcome President Obama’s inclusive approach to immigration reform which prioritizes protecting workers against retaliation for exercising their labor rights; winning a real roadmap for citizenship for all 11 million undocumented workers; and stopping cruel enforcement measures that tear communities apart. The White House proposal draws from key provisions of the POWER Act, commonsense workers’ rights legislation aimed to ensure workers’ immigration status can’t be used by egregious employers as a weapon to curtail basic attempts at ensuring a fair and safe workplace. We can and we must seize on this critical opportunity to turn the tide for immigrant workers, their families, and improve conditions for all working families in this country,” stated Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice and American Rights at Work.
Saket Soni, Director of the National Guestworker Alliance said, “The President named labor rights and anti-retaliation protections for immigrant workers as a top-line priority today. That’s an early victory for all immigrant workers. The President got it right when he said this debate is about people, not policy. This is a debate about every immigrant worker in this country, and in the coming weeks and months we will make sure that immigrant workers themselves are shaping and central to the immigration debate.