Immigration Reform Update: AFL-CIO Supports Deferred Action Programs for Undocumented Workers
One of the largest unions in the country has supported President Barack Obama in implementing his immigration executive actions, citing undocumented workers need workplace protection.
The AFL-CIO and the National Education Association filed amicus briefs to a federal appeals court against a lawsuit initiated by 26 U.S. states seeking to block Obama's immigration executive actions, namely the implementation of the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.
The DACA and DAPA programs would provide work permits for eligible undocumented immigrants, but its implementation has been temporarily blocked by a district court judge in February. The AFL-CIO stated that Texas, which has led the lawsuit's coalition, does not have the "legal standing" to challenge Obama's executive actions and his administration did not overreach executive privileges.
According to the AFL-CIO, its affiliates represent many undocumented workers across the U.S. through existing collective bargaining relationships. The amicus brief also noted, "Although these workers are entitled to the substantive protections of labor and employment law, they are not entitled to the full range of remedies when these laws are violated."
"Secondly, this lack of legal remedies and vulnerability to retaliation creates an incentive for some unscrupulous employers to employ large numbers of undocumented workers at sub-standard wages and working conditions," the brief continued. "Law-abiding employers must compete with these employers, making it more difficult for AFL-CIO affiliate unions to raise wages and improve working conditions."
The AFL-CIO stated it supports Obama's deferred action guidelines because it provides temporary relief to undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for many years while posing no risk of removal by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The Texas AFL-CIO has also criticized the Lone Star State's Legislature for considering a repeal of the DREAM Act, which allows undocumented immigrant college students the opportunity to receive more financial aid.
"Dream Act students have grown up in Texas, they are a part of the fabric of Texas and they should get to pay in-state tuition to build a better future for Texas," said Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller. "We can't see how the Dream Act is 'unfair' to Texas taxpayers or anyone else, as repeal supporters suggest. To the contrary, repealing the law would cast out these students by denying them access to in-state tuition rates where they live and leaving no alternative to obtain in-state rates."
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) did file a brief to the U.S. Fifth Court of Appeals to lift the temporary injunction placed by District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas' Brownsville Division. Hanen ruled on Feb. 16 in favor of the 26 states, which include Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The Justice Department claimed Hanen's temporary injunction violated other states who have supported the deferred action programs. The DOJ is seeking for the temporary injunction to be reversed, or at least maintain the temporary injunction for the 26 states participating in the lawsuit.
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