In response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing violence in Central America and coming into the United States and surrendering to Border Patrol agents, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement saying that the crisis has brought about the best and worst amongst us. Trumka continues:
Alarmingly, in places like Murrieta, California and Vassar, Michigan, we have seen ugly reminders of racism and hatred directed toward children. The spewing of nativist venom, the taking up of arms and the fear-mongering about crime and disease harken back to dark periods in our history and have no business taking place under the banner of our flag.
On the other hand, around the country we have also seen a tremendous outpouring of compassion and concern for the plight of these women and children. We are proud to say that local unions have joined with faith and community groups to collect needed supplies, provide shelter and support and call for humane treatment.
The situation along the border is a refugee crisis that requires a humane, lawful response and must not be politicized. The labor movement calls upon national and community leaders to respond to the crisis in a manner that meets our obligations under U.S. and international law and comports with basic human rights and American values. This means ensuring full due process and providing the additional resources necessary to ensure the well-being and fair treatment of children and refugees. It also requires taking an honest assessment of the root causes of the crisis, including the long-term impact of U.S. policies on immigration, trade and foreign affairs.
We cannot lend credibility to Republican assertions that a refugee crisis is proof that we should continue to deport hard working people who have been contributing members of our society for years. These are simply new excuses to justify failed policies. Lifting the pressure on immigrant workers was needed before the child refugee story developed, and it is no less urgent today. The administration must act now to keep all families together, uphold our standards as a humanitarian nation and advance the decent work agenda necessary to improve conditions both at home and abroad.
The AFL-CIO is calling upon President Barack Obama to take action to adjust these failed policies. Sign our petition asking the president to do more to keep families together and move toward a more fair and humane policy.