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AFL-CIO Launches Historic Campaign to Assist Workers with Immigration Executive Action and Citizenship Assistance

We Rise! national immigration initiative will build worker and community power and assist eligible immigrants with the DACA, DAPA and with U.S. Citizenship

(Washington, DC) - Today, the AFL-CIO officially launched “We Rise!,” a national immigration initiative to reach, mobilize, and organize immigrant workers to build power on the job and in the community. We Rise! will train union members and equip union halls around the country to empower immigrant workers and their families to gain rights on the job by applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs. The program will also encourage qualified Legal Permanent Residents to become U.S. Citizens.

“President Obama’s executive actions were the right thing to do, but we’re not done yet. This progress can be stalled but it cannot be stopped. With the launching of the We Rise! initiative we are moving forward,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The “We Rise!” national immigration initiative was launched with a three day training where more than 200 union members, leaders and staff from 23 different unions and activists from 27 states gathered in Washington, DC to receive practical, hands-on training that will enable them to return to their communities with plans to assist qualified applicants with the DAPA, DACA programs and U.S. Citizenship.

“We learned a lot in the workshops and trainings, from how DACA and DAPA will protect and advance workers’ rights, to how to identify eligible recipients and assist them with the application process,” said Ildefonso Magaña, an International Union of Painters and Allied Trades organizer from Phoenix, AZ. “You could feel the energy in all the sessions. There is a lot of excitement and we are all looking forward to returning to our communities to hit the ground running.”

In February, a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction on both immigration executive actions. The 5th Court Circuit has set a hearing for April 17. AFL-CIO President Trumka has stated that “this temporary setback will not deter the AFL-CIO’s work on the ground to ensure that as many workers as possible are eventually able to gain protections and work authorization under the new deferred action programs.”

As part of this commitment, unions in key states will open their halls to eligible workers, where they will learn more about their rights on the job and meet trained volunteers and legal experts who will assist them with filling out their applications and answer any questions in regards to both programs and the citizenship process.

In addition, Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, will launch “Working America We Rise!”, a project offering immigrant workers the opportunity to join the labor movement and receive benefits including legal services, credit counseling, prepaid cards with a feature for remittances, and access to dental and vision discounts. Dues-paying Working America We Rise! members are also eligible to apply for a $250 “We Rise! Grant” to help fund deferred action application fees.

“It is great to know there is assistance out there for workers who will benefit from citizenship, and the DACA and DAPA programs,” said Maria Dominguez, an American Federation of Teachers member who benefited from DACA, and now works as teacher in Austin, TX. “With these programs workers will finally be able to claim our rights at work and parents of our students will stop being deported. This is just the beginning.”

During the past year, the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions have organized citizenship workshops in several cities in the country.  The UFCW has been at the forefront of building a robust program that has helped to guide the federation’s work. The We Rise! initiative is a continuation of the labor movement’s efforts to empower all workers by pushing for comprehensive immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship.

Contact: Gonzalo Salvador (202) 637-5018

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