Major immigrant rights organizations and labor unions on Tuesday welcomed President Barack Obama’s speech on immigration reform, particularly praising his strong support for a plan that includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 undocumented immigrants in the country.
In his speech in Las Vegas Tuesday, Obama said that if Congress does not act soon, he will send his own proposal to ensure “a fair process” that allows undocumented immigrants to “earn” the right to legalize their status and eventual citizenship.
“We applaud the eloquent and thoughtful support of President Obama to create a reform that includes a viable path to citizenship for those who are American in every way except on paper,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the country’s largest labor federation.
Following Obama’s speech, Trumka said he was pleased that the president seemed to “understand” immigrants and that “a victory for immigrant workers is a victory for all U.S. workers.”
“Obama’s leadership and the bipartisan Senate agreement gives us hope, and they suggest that 2013 will be the year when America finally builds a functional immigration system,” said the labor leader.
Meanwhile, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a coallition of some of the largest immigrant rights organizations, issued a statement thanking the president for putting on the table some viable solutions, which in its judgment, “would create a more humane and just immigration system.”
“We applaud Obama for making [immigration] reform a priority and we hope the bipartisan plan will be passed by Congress,” stated FIRM.
However, immigrant rights groups will not accept “any plan that does not include a path to citizenship and ensures that families will remain united,” warned FIRM spokesman Kica Matos.
The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), in a statement released Tuesday, said, “In the twenty years that I’ve served in the U.S. House of Representatives, the landscape for reforming our long-broken immigration system has never been as promising as it is today. President Obama’s principles for immigration reform complement the work that is being done in Congress.
“As the details of a reform package become clearer over the next weeks, the one necessity is that it must be done.”