Big labor renews calls for immigration reform

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor

A coalition of top labor unions on Monday called on Congress to pass expansions on programs to protect immigrants with temporary permits. 

In a letter to Congress, more than 30 labor unions led by the AFL-CIO and Working Families United asked for protections for “Dreamers” — immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as minors — and beneficiaries of two humanitarian immigration programs, temporary protected status (TPS) and deferred enforced departure (DED).

{mosads}“For the labor movement, these programs have been vital in ensuring that thousands of working people have rights on the job and the freedom to negotiate together for fair pay and working conditions,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

More than 300,000 people from 10 countries have TPS protections, which allow them to legally live and work in the United States; some have had those protections for more than two decades.

TPS grants immigration benefits to people from countries undergoing man-made or natural disasters.

“As labor organizations representing millions of workers in the U.S., we urge you to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations and pass legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives as soon as possible, but no later than the first 100 days of the 116th Congress, to provide permanent protection and a path to citizenship for Dreamers and individuals with TPS or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED),” the union leaders wrote.

The Trump administration has steadily cut back on TPS designations, parting from previous Republican and Democratic administrations, who more or less summarily renewed those designations.

The administration also let DED expire, sitting down a program that gave benefits to thousands of people displaced from war-torn Liberia.

Trump’s orders on TPS and DED have been blocked by courts, as has his order to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects up to 800,000 Dreamers.

Democratic Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.) and Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.) are expected to present a bill to protect all three populations on March 12.

The union leaders said their sectors would be severely impacted if immigrants in those three categories do not receive permanent immigration benefits.

“Dreamers, TPS and DED recipients have, for decades, done the work that that American industries and our local economies rely on, and they deserve to stay,” said Painters Union General President Ken Rigmaiden.

Tags AFL-CIO Immigration Lucille Roybal-Allard
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