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AFL-CIO Launches Campaign for Immigration Reform: "Road Map to Citizenship is Essential to all of America’s Workers"

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trumkaToday, leaders from the AFL-CIO hosted a press call to announce their campaign for immigration reform. From the press release:

Comprehensive immigration reform with a road map to citizenship is essential to all of America’s workers, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a telephone press conference today, as he an Maria Elena Durazo, chair of the AFL-CIO’s immigration Committee announced the labor movement’s campaign for a common-sense immigration process.

“We’re here today because we believe in a nation that values people’s work, their communities and their families,” Trumka said.  “We believe that in order to create shared prosperity and a voice for all, we must address our immigration process. This is a top priority for America’s unions because a roadmap to citizenship for those who are American in every way except on paper is critical for all working people. Workers without the protections of citizenship are subject to enormous abuse by employers. That’s why the labor movement has been working with day laborers and domestic workers for years. We understand that solidarity means standing together with predominantly immigrant workforces to improve wages and workplace safety.”

Durazo said the campaign will be launched with events in 14 events in cities across the country.  The first event took place yesterday in Raleigh, North Carolina yesterday and next is an event in Las Vegas on Tuesday where more than a thousand working people will rally for immigration reform.

Trumka and Durazo said the AFL-CIO will deploy the labor movement’s political and grassroots infrastructure and the same system that has been used to elect and re-elect Barack Obama to engage working families nationwide to pass immigration reform.

Yesterday, Trumka wrote a post at DailyKos about his own immigrant explaining why he “feel[s] so passionately about enacting immigration reform that provides a real pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants who call this country home”:

When I was a kid, there was an ugly name for every one of us in all 12 languages spoken in Nemacolin—wop and Hunky and Polack and kike. We were the last hired and first fired, the people who did the hardest and most dangerous work, the people whose pay got shorted because we didn’t know the language and were afraid to complain.

When the immigrants of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation got to the mines and mills, the people already there said we were taking their jobs and ruining their country.   Yet in the end, the immigrants of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation prevailed, and built America.   This is the history of my family, and this is the story of towns large and small across America, places like Seattle and St. Louis, San Antonio and Chicago and so many others.

And yet it doesn’t take long for us to forget the past and focus on anyone we think is different, and to bring back those familiar responses—that immigrants are taking our jobs, ruining our country.

When I hear that kind of talk, I ask: Did an immigrant move your plant overseas? Did an immigrant take away your pension? Or cut your health care? Did an immigrant undermine America’s workers’ right to organize?   Or crash the financial system? Did immigrant workers write the trade laws that have sent millions of jobs from our shores? Of course not.

The AFL-CIO announced a list of dates and cities where it will be holding campaign events:

  • Raleigh, – NC 2/6
  • Las Vegas, NV – 2/11
  • Atlanta, GA – 2/14
  • Denver, CO – 2/15
  • Seattle, WA – 2/18
  • Portland, OR – 2/19
  • Anaheim, CA – 2/20
  • San Francisco, CA – 2/25
  • Miami, FL – 2/28
  • Houston, TX – 2/28
  • St. Paul, MN – 3/6, 3/12 or 3/13 
  • Phoenix, AZ – 3/11