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America’s Unions Stand Together with DREAM Activists

At conventions and rallies, teach-ins and town halls, working people across the country are showing an outpouring of support for immigrant youth and their struggle for justice. DREAMers—or young immigrant activists—are undocumented young people who were brought to the United States at an early age and represent the best of what this country has to offer.

Every year, 65,000 undocumented young people graduate from high school largely unable to work, join the military or go to college because of their immigration status. Last month, President Obama announced deferred action for immigrant youth, an important step in providing relief from deportation to young immigrants who grew up in the United States.

Union members around the nation are coming together in solidarity with DREAM activists and showing growing support for President Obama’s announcement.  The AFL-CIO and a number of unions—including the Laborers (LIUNA), UNITEHERE!, AFSCME and AFT issued strong statements in support of the president’s announcement.

Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, says:

All children deserve access to a quality public education and a fair shot at realizing their dreams. President Obama has given hope to young people who have demonstrated good citizenship by pursuing college or protecting our nation. The nearly 1 million youths affected by this decision have done everything our society has asked them to do. They have worked hard, studied hard and are pursuing college educations. These young immigrants are our students, and they deserve a chance to become productive members of our society without living with constant fear and uncertainty.  

In response to President Obama’s announcement, AFL-CIO has launched an effort to partner local unions and union members to work alongside the DREAM movement to host forums, registration drives and share DREAMers' stories with working families. This project aims to ensure these new Americans know their legal rights at the workplace and have a voice on the job.

And this week at the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) convention, a constituency group of the AFL-CIO, close to 40 DREAM Act leaders from across the nation are learning about the union movement, strategizing and coordinating their next steps in regards to deferred action and the DREAM Act movement. DREAMers also participated in LCLAA's massive civic engagement event where DREAMers helped LCLAA meet its goal of knocking on more than 5,000 doors in an effort to register Latino voters.

Jose Magana, who is a DREAM-eligible law school graduate and currently attending the LCLAA convention, says, “As Americans, we all do our part to contribute, and we're all the better for having hardworking new immigrants as contributing members of our communities by being customers in our stores, paying payroll taxes and giving to local churches and charities.”

Union members understand America is a nation of values, founded on an idea—that all men and women are created equal and all Americans who love this country deserve a common sense immigration process, one that includes a road map for people who aspire to be citizens.

The AFL-CIO remains committed to fighting for economic and social justice for all working families—regardless of national origin. Together, working families continue urging Congress for a legislative solution that addresses the parents and families of these immigrant youth. 

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