AFL-CIO delegates denounced President Obama's record on illegal immigrant deportations Tuesday, saying the White House should put the brakes on the process while Congress is debating a comprehensive reform bill.
"When we have a bill for 11 million immigrants to become full Americans, we should not be, in the middle of this, deporting them," said Tefere Gebre, director of the Orange County Labor Federation, at a press conference during the AFL-CIO's quadrennial convention in Los Angeles. Gebre was joined by "several of the nation's top labor leaders," according to the L.A. Times.
Obama has deported more than 1.5 million immigrants in his first term and has maintained an aggressive approach, deporting an average of 34,000 a month in the last fiscal year alone. Obama has boasted of his administration's track record on deportations, even as he softened immigration policy in other areas.
The AFL-CIO has been supportive of comprehensive immigration reform, backing the bill that passed in the Senate earlier this year. It nevertheless has concerns of its own and fought to limit guest-worker programs authorized by the Senate bill. Several unions have opposed those programs, arguing they take jobs away from domestic workers.
A proposed immigration resolution on the federation's convention website states: "Immigration reform must fully protect U.S. workers, reduce the exploitation of immigrant workers and reduce employers’ incentive to hire undocumented workers rather than U.S. workers."
It lays out its main interest regarding immigration later in the resolution: "Specifically, the AFL-CIO will promote organizing of immigrant workers who seek to have union representation at their workplace."