SEIU’s International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina attended the President Obama’s president’s address yesterday in El Paso , Texas and made the following statement:
“President Obama is to be commended for leading a forthright discussion on one of the more vexing issues facing our nation: immigration reform. By keeping attention on the issue and uniting divergent interests from across the political spectrum, the president is challenging the nation to set aside divisive politics and find real solutions.
“Congress needs to listen. For years, Republicans have blocked congressional debate on comprehensive immigration reform with the false argument – proven wrong many times over – that securing the border was a pre-requisite for comprehensive immigration reform. Their repeated stalling tactic is calling for securing the border before engaging in a debate on other reforms that would resolve the status of undocumented workers and their families already here and also level the playing field for all workers.
“Today, the president made a forceful case for moving forward on comprehensive solutions. There is no question that reforming the system would treat all employers fairly and increase the wage scale for all workers in the U.S. It would eliminate a massive underground “cash” economy that takes advantage of cheap labor and depresses wages and working conditions for everyone. Consequently business and labor leaders across the country and across the political spectrum have stood up against short-sighted state legislation and demanded a federal solution.
“Along the border, the ‘security first’ markers that immigration opponents demanded during the last congressional debate in 2007 have been achieved. Billions of dollars have been spent on personnel, equipment, and the latest in surveillance technology.But there is a limit to what enforcement alone can accomplish without real reform no matter how much money we throw at the problem.
“However, it’s time to acknowledge what voters have been telling us: securing the border before other reforms are made is unrealistic because “total control” is impossible. This approach is nothing more than a costly band-aid, or stop-gap measure. Instead of applying more ‘band-aids’ through costly, short-term fixes, we need solid solutions to improve our economic and national security.
“President Obama is showing great political courage in forcing a national debate on this important issue. Labor and business are at the table; mayors, law enforcement and faith leaders are there too.
“The question remains: When are the Republicans going to quit stalling and start finding solutions that the public is demanding? We are ready to work on it for the sake of our economic and national security and for the American people.”