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AFL-CIO Executive Council Condemns Alabama’s HB 56, Offers Support for DREAMers

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afl-cioVia Laura Clawson at DailyKos Labor, a report with excellent news from the AFL-CIO Executive Council’s winter meeting. They voiced strong support for immigration reform:

They condemned anti-immigrant laws in Alabama and elsewhere and doubled down on the AFL-CIO’s support of the DREAM Act, supporting state DREAM Acts and singling out Maryland’s law, which is under attack from the right:

The failure of the U.S. Congress to act has left a dangerous policy void which the states, reflecting the desperation of the American people, are attempting to fill.  Some states—Alabama and Arizona, to name just two—are implementing mean-spirited and punitive bills that make the situation worse, and which the labor movement has strongly opposed. Others, like Maryland, have adopted in-state tuition bills that bring hope and modest relief for a small segment of the population.  We will support state-level efforts like the Maryland DREAM Act, but make no mistake: These are not complete solutions.  Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform.

The Executive Council’s statement of on Alabama is titled, Crisis in Alabama: The Devastating Effects of State Anti-Immigrant Laws. It begins:

On Nov. 16, a delegation of African American labor leaders traveled to Alabama on a fact-finding mission to investigate and document the impact of HB 56, America’s latest extreme anti-immigrant law.  The delegation met with local labor, civil rights, faith and community leaders and business owners, who painted a stark picture of the real-world effects of the law.  They also heard from those most impacted by the law—undocumented people and their families. 

The delegation members were profoundly affected by what they saw and heard.  They were deeply troubled by the humanitarian crisis they witnessed—a crisis that hearkens Alabama back to the bleakest days of the state’s racial history.  Delegation members reported that parallels to Jim Crow were all too real, and the prejudice they heard about felt all too familiar. 

That delegation reported back to the Executive Council, making the following recommendations, which were adopted:

The delegations’ recommendations are as follows:

  1. Educating our leaders and our members to recognize that laws like HB 56 are anti-worker laws is a top priority.  To that end, the AFL-CIO should work with its affiliates to develop the necessary educational tools and programs.  State federations must also be given the tools to fight against these types of legislative efforts.

  2. The labor movement needs to develop a strategic response based on a rights-based framework.  The labor movement has a national policy on comprehensive immigration reform, which former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall helped the AFL-CIO develop. Consistent with the AFL-CIO’s national policy and principles for immigration reform, the AFL-CIO together with its affiliates should develop a strategy to oppose state legislation that is inconsistent with those principles and support state legislative enactments that advance workers’ rights and effectively hold employers that repeatedly exploit workers accountable, so that they do not put responsible employers at a disadvantage.  Employers who exploit, misclassify, or otherwise violate labor and employment law should suffer debarment from state contracts, license revocation and other appropriate remedies.

We adopt these findings and recommendations and will take the necessary steps to implement them by the August 2012 Executive Council meeting.