6:36 PM Eastern - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Labor Groups United to Unveil Unified Immigration Reform Framework

Today, the Change to Win federation and AFL-CIO unions unveiled a unified framework for comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Change to Win leader and UFCW President Joseph Hansen presented the outlines of the immigration system this afternoon in Washington, joined by SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Media and leaders from the United Farm Workers (UFW).

The proposal endorses legalizing the status of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., and opposes the adoption of employers' incentive to hire undocumented workers rather than U.S. workers. The accord recognizes that if these immigrants are not given adequate incentive to "come out of the shadows" to adjust their status, our country will continue to have a large pool of unauthorized workers--allowing employers to continue to live above the law and exploit workers in order to drive down wages and working conditions, to the detriment of all workers.

The joint announcement and proposal is a critical sign of support for the Administration and Congress to address immigration reform and to ensure that it remains a priority on the legislative calendar. It is also an important sign that immigration reform is a comprehensive part of economic recovery. In a statement, Eliseo Medina spoke on the need to overhaul our broken immigration system:

As we face the most serious recession since the Great Depression--as healthcare costs skyrocket, income disparity grows, and the middle class continues to shrink--the American public wants fundamental reform of economic and social policies that have benefited the few at the expense of the working majority. Immigration reform is no exception. Today's unified agreement is a major step forward that will, combined with the continued leadership of President Obama, Vice President Biden and bipartisan leadership in Congress, profoundly improve the future of all workers and build a stronger American economy for our children and grandchildren.

The framework for comprehensive reform and a national commission to regulate future immigration was developed with the guidance of former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Key components of the proposal call for:

  • An independent commission to assess and manage the flow of future immigration workers, 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 the current undocumented population; and
  • Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.

"This framework is a roadmap toward real reform--reform that addresses the needs of our nation's workers, families and communities," said Change to Win's Hansen. "We are a nation that respects hard work, family and the pursuit of the American Dream. Our immigration system must hold true to these principles."

Read the AFL-CIO and Change to Win's "Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform."

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