Labor leaders weigh in as Senate takes up immigration bill

Geraldine Crece and Luis Sanchez bow their heads during a prayer that opened a rally for immigration reform April 9.

Geraldine Crece and Luis Sanchez bow their heads during a prayer that opened a rally for immigration reform April 9.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee began hearings last week on an 844-page bill to overhaul the nation’s broken immigration system. The proposal includes a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, as well as new boarder-security measures, guest-worker programs, employee-verification methods and other changes to the immigration system.

In Minnesota labor leaders who have been advocating for immigration reform reacted positively to the bill, although some warned there are concerns left unaddressed.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson called the bill “a testament to the unstoppable momentum in our country to create a just and compassionate immigration policy.”

The Service Employees International Union, another strong advocate for immigration reform, applauded the measure.

Jigme Ugen, executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, called it “a good starting point,” and said his union looks forward to working with two Minnesota senators on the Judiciary Committee – Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar – to improve it.

“We thank Senators Franken and Klobuchar for their support and urge them to be vocal leaders on an issue that impacts all Minnesotans, regardless of immigration status.”

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