Major unions and the AFL-CIO announced their support for President Obama’s action to provide new legal status for appx. 4 million undocumented immigrants. The Service Employees International Union and its partners launched a new website where immigrant families can learn if they are eligible and get help.
In a speech from the Oval Office Thursday night, Obama said he was taking executive action to allow 3.7 million parents of U.S.-born and resident children and another 1 million undocumented immigrants who arrived as children the ability to receive work permits, drive and conduct legal transactions.
These immigrants would be shielded from deportation, he said, and immigration enforcement actions will instead focus on people with criminal records or those who pose security threats.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry called Obama’s action “life-changing.”
“With this action, the President has taken our country forward in addressing what needs to be fixed about our broken immigration system,” she said. “Millions of parents and children who work hard and play by the rules can now live without fear of being separated from their loved ones.”
SEIU and partners have launched iAmerica.org, a resource for immigrant families to learn if they are eligible and get help, Henry announced.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the executive action “is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law.”
Trumka noted, “We have been calling upon the White House to halt unnecessary deportations since Spring 2013 because our broken immigration system is an invitation for employer manipulation and abuse, and U.S.-born workers as well as immigrant workers are paying the price.
“By extending relief and work authorization to an estimated 4 million people, the Obama Administration will help prevent unscrupulous employers from using unprotected workers to drive down wages and conditions for all workers in our country. Although this fix will be temporary, it will allow millions of people to live and work without fear, and afford them the status to assert their rights on the job.”
United Steelworkers President Leo Girard said Obama’s action is “good for all workers,” adding, “The President tonight presented a common sense solution that creates a roadmap to bring millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, while establishing ways to better control our borders, and discourage employers from illegally hiring undocumented workers.”
Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said his members strongly support the president’s action.
“At the UFCW, this has been our fight for decades. Our members and their families have persevered through raids and deportations. UFCW members have mobilized to defeat racist ballot initiatives and our union has assisted workers with the legalization process while negotiating contracts that protect our members where the law fails to. All along, those in UFCW gold have lobbied for comprehensive immigration reform at protests, marches, rallies, town halls, and just yesterday, in front of the White House.
“We will continue to call on Congress to send legislation to the President’s desk. But with no bill to sign, President Obama is rightly using his pen to provide relief to those who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Executive action is not all we need or deserve. But it is a step in the right direction and for that we are thankful.”