Several hundred union, immigrant and community activists rallied in Seattle on Monday and called for comprehensive, commonsense immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for more than 11 million aspiring citizens.
The Seattle action was one of more than a dozen events that are the kickoff of the AFL-CIO’s immigration reform campaign.
One of those aspiring citizens was Elizabeth Lara, who was brought to the United States from Mexico by her parents 13 years ago. Today, the 20-year-old is a university student who pays for her tuition by working in the state’s orchards and vegetable fields. She told the crowd:
I feel like I am an American in every single way, just not on paper.
Maria Elena Durazo, chair of the AFL-CIO Immigration Committee and executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said:
We should reward hard work. And these 11 million people have contributed to this nation.
Said Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) President Jeff Johnson, “Our country was built on the blood, sweat, tears, dreams, hopes and cultural diversity of immigrant workers.”
The Seattle rally followed several earlier actions, including a Feb. 15 event in Denver where state and local union leaders announced the formation of the Colorado Labor Immigration Working Group, which includes the Colorado AFL-CIO, the Denver Area Labor Federation, AFT, United Transportation Union (UTU), UNITE HERE, Laborers (LIUNA), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and other labor organizations.
Said Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Director Mike Cerbo:
We as labor believe that what unites us as Americans is our belief in shared values and our country; not where we were born. Work connects us all.
Today in Portland, Ore., union members and leaders, including Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain, will rally with representatives from the Latino and Asian Pacific American communities outside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. Other events are scheduled through the middle of March.
The union movement’s blueprint for immigration reform consists of five major interconnected pieces:
- An independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need;
- A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism;
- Rational operational control of the border;
- Adjustment of status for current undocumented population; and
- Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary seasonal, not permanent jobs.
Learn more about the union movement's shared principles for immigration reform.
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