Key Points On Immigration Reform

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Immigration Reform: Key Points

The time for immigration reform with a real path toward citizenship is now. In November, voters soundly rejected the anti-immigrant, anti-working family agenda put forth by the few who profit from the broken immigration process.

Our approach to immigration is rooted in our values as a nation. We believe in hard work, in the dignity of all work and in respect for one another. What unites us as Americans is our belief in shared values and in the country we call home, not where we were born.

We also believe that hard work should be rewarded with fair pay. Working immigrants have no rights or protections to fight back against employers who take advantage of their status.

All people want to create opportunities for themselves and their families. Hardworking immigrant families came to this country for the promise of freedom and the opportunity to provide a better life for their children—even if it meant uprooting their families. We’re all the better for their contributions to our communities. And to fully contribute, the 11 million immigrants we call neighbors and friends must have a viable path to citizenship.

But it’s an impossible process for aspiring citizens to take the next step. The current, crazy regulations mean there’s no line to get into to become a citizen.

Everyone agrees that children who have grown up in the United States, attended local schools and demonstrated a commitment to succeed should not be limited by an immigration status they had no control over. Families are the building block of our society and culture; they should not be split apart. The current patchwork of policies is mismanaged and broken.

We need to create a commonsense immigration process that recognizes the hardships and contributions of people moving here, keeps families together in this country and creates a road map to citizenship for those who aspire to be American citizens.

We need comprehensive immigration reform—not just for immigrants’ rights, but for the rights of all workers who are trying to make a decent living for their families. With a process in place, immigrant workers will have a voice in the workplace and can defend their rights, which, in turn, will improve standards for all workers. That’s because the ability to exploit any workers lowers standards for all workers.

In this critical moment in our economy, we all must work together to put forward an economic agenda based on shared prosperity, of which immigration reform is a key piece.

The labor movement is helping build the commonsense immigration process America needs.  In 2009, the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, the Economic Policy Institute and other unions and immigrant rights groups and faith leaders worked with former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall to release Immigration for Shared Prosperity: A Framework for Comprehensive Reform, which outlines the labor movement’s policy proposals. This framework consists of five closely related components, which have united many interests on the issues:

  1. A humane, practical path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants;
  2. A data-based approach to future flow, including the creation of an independent, professional commission to measure labor shortages and recommend the numbers of employment-based temporary and permanent immigrants to fill those shortages;
  3. Rational operational control of the border;
  4. A fair and efficient worker authorization system and effective labor law enforcement; and
  5. The improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs.