Press Release

Teachers’ Union Takes On Border Crisis at National Convention

For Release: 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Contact:

Kate Childs Graham
202/393-6354; cell 202/615-2424
kchilds@aft.org

LOS ANGELES—Today, the American Federation of Teachers' national convention unanimously passed a special order of business addressing the international humanitarian crisis at the U.S. border. It describes the crisis as one "in desperate need of resolution," noting the allegations of abuse and mistreatment of unaccompanied immigrant children and the complaints filed by civil liberties and immigrant rights organizations.

The special order reads, "The United States is a great and diverse nation, founded by immigrants fleeing persecution and seeking a safer, more prosperous life."

It resolves, "The AFT demand that Congress authorize the $3.7 billion requested by President Obama to provide immediate relief aid to the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. border in order to meet the immediate needs of the children being detained in inhumane conditions."

Speaking in favor of the order, AFT President Randi Weingarten said, "We must be caretakers and stewards of children—whatever their country of origin. The children at the border are being detained in inhumane conditions. We—and by we, I'm including members of Congress—have a collective responsibility to act."

AFT Vice President Louis Malfaro, secretary-treasurer of Texas AFT, said, "Our state and country are facing a moral and humanitarian crisis I've never before witnessed. Our leaders must act swiftly and compassionately as we confront this crisis, recognizing that the most vulnerable members of society—our children—need our safe haven and caregiving. The potential consequences of inaction are too great; we have a moral obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves."

Earlier in the convention, California Gov. Jerry Brown addressed the border crisis. He said, "It's very easy to take a problem that's difficult and start pointing fingers. We have a problem at the border—a human tragedy. We have kids whose throats are being slashed in El Salvador and Honduras and Guatemala. We have a problem, and the only way to solve it is for Republicans and Democrats, congressmen and congresswomen, to work with the president to deal with a very difficult problem."

Read the full resolution here.

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The AFT represents 1.6 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.