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National AFL-CIO Convention ‘Steps Up Fight To Win Documented Status For All Migrants’

Published Friday, June 17, 2022
by The Press Associates Union News Service
National AFL-CIO Convention ‘Steps Up Fight To Win Documented Status For All Migrants’

(PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA) - After a discussion that ranged from practical Workers’ Rights to Biblical moral precepts, Union Delegates to the National AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia voted to “redouble” the Labor Federation’s campaign to win documented status for all Migrants inside the U.S., along with those seeking asylum and entry.

“The moral fabric of every nation and every society is measured by how they treat the least among us,” Farm Labor Organizing Committee President Baldemar Velasquez told his colleagues, quoting Biblical prophets, earlier this week.  The Old Testament, he paraphrased, says: “We shall govern our aliens with the same laws we govern ourselves.”

But the discussion, and the resolution, turned to the practical, pointing out not just the benefits Migrant Workers - including those who are now undocumented, contribute to the economy, but how they also were in the front lines of those keeping it going, at hazard to themselves, during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

And those who were undocumented were forced to do so under employer exploitation and repression, backed by the threat of denunciation and eviction.

The resolution adds migration is part of a larger, worldwide problem: Corporate Greed.

It demands “enforceable Environmental and Labor Standards in trade deals and investment strategies, and an end to extractive, neo-colonial foreign policy approaches that enrich multi-national corporations and fuel poverty, exploitation, environmental degradation, violent suppression of rights, and other factors that drive Working Families from their homelands.”

In 1999, prodded by then Unite HERE President John Wilhelm, the Labor Federation reversed its historic skepticism about comprehensive immigration reform.

Before that, Unions had often catered to the popular attitude that Migrants took jobs away from native-born people.

Wilhelm reported not only was that untrue but that migrants were an essential - and growing - part of the American economy.

And as long as they were both unorganized and, because of their status, unorganizable, venal and vicious employers could not only exploit them via low wages, no benefits, and threats of deportation but use the threat of importation of undocumented people to force current Workers to take cuts in pay and benefits too.

So the National AFL-CIO changed course and has campaigned to win documented status for Migrants, including the 11 million undocumented people already here, ever since.

The resolution also points out the conditions haven’t changed very much for Migrants in two decades or more – and the Coronavirus Pandemic exposed the exploitation for all to see, it said.

“Real immigration reform is an essential part of the larger structural change we need to dismantle systemic racism, and create an economy that protects Working People and promotes Democracy in the workplace and the community,” its latest resolution declares.  “Our Unions will never accept policies that relegate millions of Workers to an exploitable sub-class with severely constrained rights.  That is why we remain steadfast in the fight to win a path to citizenship for every Undocumented Worker and why we reject the model of work Visa Programs that gives employers control over the status and fate of Workers.  The National AFL-CIO is committed to building a bold, dynamic and inclusive Labor Movement that brings good jobs and a secure future to all Workers, regardless of where we were born.

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