WASHINGTON (PAI) – Unionists will hit the streets by the thousands in August, in dozens of congressional districts nationwide, campaigning all-out for comprehensive immigration reform, AFL-CIO legislative specialist Andrea Zuniga DiBitetto says.
DiBitetto told Press Associates Union News Service on July 30 that the fed outlined its plans in a July 23 closed-door meeting with four Democratic U.S. senators who assembled and pushed through – as part of a bipartisan 8-senator coalition – the comprehensive immigration reform plan the Senate passed last month.
But the GOP-run House doesn’t intend to take up that comprehensive plan, and has deliberately avoided tackling its core issue: Legalization and eventual citizenship for the 7.5 million undocumented adults in the U.S. and the 3.5 million undocumented kids.
The point of the pressure, the federation told the senators, is to get U.S. House members, especially Republicans, to tackle the entire immigration issue, including that component. The senators “agreed to do all they could to help,” DiBitetto says.
“If we can galvanize all these disparate parts of America, we can prevail,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the GOP leader among the eight, said at the AFL-CIO on July 30.
The first chance for both the senators and the fed will come August 2 in Ames, Iowa, when one of the Democrats, Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, joins longtime pro-worker Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, at a town hall meeting at the University of Iowa.
The two plan to directly challenge the nativist, racist statements of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. In his latest statement, King charged undocumented people develop leg muscles “as large as cantaloupes” from carrying drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Unionists and their allies will campaign for immigration reform in Ames, and elsewhere, too. The senators agreed. “They said they’d do anything to win August,” DiBitetto said. “We’ll make sure we have a positive presence at their town halls.”
The federation plans marches, rallies and visits to lawmakers’ offices in the states. It also aims to be a large presence at publicized events, such as town halls, to ensure that the majority voice – for comprehensive immigration reform – gets through.
At the same time, the fed will still work Washington, meeting congressional staffers and lobbying for tackling all immigration issues, notably the path to citizenship.
The GOP House majority has been most resistant to that. And the GOP advocates giving local law enforcement officers power to demand papers from anyone they suspect of being undocumented. If the person can’t produce proof, he or she can be arrested, detained and deported. Labor hates and opposes that, calling it racial profiling.
Photo: AFL-CIO Facebook page.