WASHINGTON – United Food and Commercial Workers Union International President (UFCW) Joseph T. Hansen released the following statement today in response to President Obama’s speech on immigration at American University:
“President Obama today laid out a clear and compelling case why the passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation remains one of the most pressing issues facing our nation.
“For too long, our nation’s immigration system has fueled exploitation, discrimination and abuse. It has allowed unscrupulous employers to drive down wages and working conditions in industries across the nation, while creating an underground economy where labor laws are shredded and workers are afraid to report serious safety concerns.
“Our current immigration system is badly broken, and Congress’ failure to address the issue is leading to a patchwork of state and local laws that are only exacerbating the problem.
“The President today charted a new course for our country—a course that protects workers, respects families and reflects our nation’s interests and our better instincts. It is a course built on security, prosperity, family unity and opportunity. It is a course that holds true to our values as a nation of immigrants, upholds the rule of law and embraces the vitality and the diversity that are the fabric of a forward-looking and strong society.
“Passing comprehensive immigration reform is about addressing the needs of our nation’s workers, its families and its communities. It is about moving America forward toward a brighter tomorrow. We are a nation that has always respected hard work, family and the pursuit of the American Dream. And we believe our immigration system must hold true to these principles.
“The UFCW applauds the President and his Administration for addressing this important challenge. Today’s speech was an important step in rallying working families around this critical issue.
“It is now time for Congress to step up and act. Democrats have offered a tough, practical and responsible plan for fixing our immigration system. It is now time for Republicans, who for too long have used this issue to divide and demean, to do more than just offer heated rhetoric, legislative roadblocks and vitriolic sound bytes. It is time for real leadership. It is time for those who are bent on blocking progress to get out of the way.
“Immigration reform is about rebuilding our economy and ensuring our national security. If our elected officials refuse to address these core issues, if they abdicate their fundamental obligation to their constituents, they have no business being in the halls of Congress.
“The UFCW looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to make the dream of comprehensive immigration reform a reality for millions of working families across the country. Together, we can bring stability and security to our economy, to our borders and to our families.”