UAW statement on passage of Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744)


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DETROIT – The UAW commends the 68 U.S. senators for approving a strong bill and passing the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744) Thursday. We urge the House to do the same, and we must remain vigilant to ensure fair and comprehensive immigration reform is passed.

From our earliest days, the UAW has been a leader in the struggle to secure economic and social justice for all people. Our commitment to improving the lives of working men and women extends beyond our borders. It encompasses families from around the globe, and keeping families together is integral to helping shape the future of American economic stability, and protecting and preserving workers’ rights.

The heart of S. 744 is our movement’s core demand: the creation of a reliable, inclusive road map to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans. This bill represents a big step toward ending family separation and toward strengthening worker protections.

“Our country’s immigration system is broken. Without a pathway to citizenship, millions of workers are forced into a shadow economy and exploited by unscrupulous employers,” said UAW President Bob King. “That drives down wages and working conditions for all workers and puts employers who want to do the right thing at a competitive disadvantage.

“Who wins when undocumented immigrants live in fear? Only employers who take advantage of them win. The rest of us lose,” King added. “Comprehensive immigration reform supports the right of all workers to a voice on the job and a decent standard of living for their families. It’s past time to lift the fear of deportation for individuals who are contributing to our country.”

“The current system divides families and forces workers to live in fear,” said UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who directs the union’s Competitive Shop/Independents, Parts and Suppliers (IPS) Department and leads organizing efforts in the auto parts industry. “No child should be separated from its parents. Too many children go to school in the morning not knowing whether their parent will be home when they return.

“Our country can do better for our families. Policies that separate spouses and tear children from parents are anti-family, and yet, that’s what our broken immigration system does,” added Estrada. “Between July 1, 2010, and Sept. 31, 2012, nearly 23 percent of all deportations – or 204,810 deportations – were issued for parents with citizen children.”

We are deeply disheartened that Republicans insist on wasting billions more to further militarize the border at a time when schools, military and infrastructure are facing extreme budget cuts. But today’s 68-32 passage represents a positive step forward, and we call on House Speaker John Boehner to allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform to preserve the pathway to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans.

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