Executive Council Statement | Immigration

Working Families Must Be Together, and Free

In our founding documents, the unions of the AFL-CIO dedicated ourselves to improve the lives of working families and to “fulfill the yearning of the human spirit for liberty, justice and community.” These ideals compel our labor movement to fight fiercely against efforts to divide and criminalize working people. As our nation continues to roil with issues stemming from poverty, oppression and racism, appeals to division and hatred inevitably make us all weaker and poorer. The escalating attack on immigrant and refugee families in our country is an affront to labor's values and a clear threat to the freedoms we all hold dear.

Family is the reason we go to work every day. America’s unions categorically reject policies that tear families apart. Yet what we see in our country today is a dramatic and deliberate increase in the casualties caused by our broken immigration system.

Instead of ensuring the safety of workers doing dangerous and difficult jobs, we see our workplaces raided and hardworking union members arrested while employers continue with business as usual.

Instead of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers, we see those fleeing violence cast back into harm’s way, shamefully imprisoned for profit and torn from their children, no matter what age.

Instead of expanding rights and protections for more of our workforce, we see a million working people with Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals needlessly stripped of their status and rights, making them once again subject to exploitation and separation from their loved ones.

These policies harm and offend all working families.

The AFL-CIO opposes immigration enforcement tactics that breed fear and chill the exercise of basic workplace rights. We demand government agencies that serve the greater good and are accountable both to their workforces and the public. We reject family and child detention, the “zero tolerance” policy at the border and any limits on due process for vulnerable populations.  We insist that the way to raise wages and standards is by empowering workers and creating pathways to citizenship for all those whose labor helps our country to prosper.

We can and we must do better. The labor movement remains committed to the ongoing struggle to build an immigration system that lifts people up and ensures that we are all able to live and work with dignity, regardless of where we were born. We know that real security can only be achieved through humane approaches, and we will continue to demand justice for long-term members of our communities, our workforce, and our unions, as well as for those who newly seek refuge in our country.

We will prevail by rejecting the politics of division and building a strong, inclusive and democratic movement for justice for all working families.