Press Release

Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, On President Obama’s Call for Immigration Reform

For Release: 

Friday, July 2, 2010


Tom Lansworth

In a speech today at American University in Washington, D.C., President Obama called for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.

WASHINGTON—Everyone acknowledges that our broken immigration system needs to be reformed, but Congress must demonstrate the courage and resolve to get it done. The AFT joins President Obama in strongly urging Congress to move forward with immigration reform legislation.

The current immigration system creates an underclass of workers who are subject to exploitation and practices that effectively reduce working standards for all. We need an immigration system that guarantees the safety of our nation without compromising fundamental civil rights and civil liberties.

This is a national issue that won’t be resolved with a patchwork of state and local laws, some of which step dangerously close to violating individuals’ constitutional rights. The AFT executive council unanimously condemned Arizona’s recently passed and terribly misguided law that allows law enforcement officials to stop people if there is probable cause to suspect they are in this country illegally. This type of provision leads to racial profiling that runs counter to the democratic principles we stand for as a nation.

A reformed immigration system must recognize that our nation has been enriched by immigrants and strengthened by their diversity.

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The AFT represents 1.7 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.