Anti-sanctuary city bill promotes 'hate,' AFL-CIO says

The AFL-CIO cheered the failure of a Senate bill that would have penalized so-called "sanctuary cities" and increased prison sentences for immigrants who commit violent crimes or re-enter the United States illegally.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka slammed the mostly Republican backers of the bill, saying that they were promoting "hate."

"This bill was another attempt to scapegoat hardworking immigrants, enrich for-profit detention facilities and promote hate, instead of unity. Punitive legislation like this bill undermines the rights of all working people and enables abuse by unscrupulous employers. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must come together and pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a roadmap to citizenship that reflects our nation's values and protects all working people," Trumka said.

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The nation's largest labor federation historically opposed most pro-immigration policies, seeing immigrants as unfair low-wage competition for its members. However, in recent years, unions have had success in organizing immigrant-heavy industries such as the service sector. As a result, labor leaders have grown more supportive of comprehensive reform efforts. Under Trumka, the AFL-CIO has generally embraced immigration and scorned efforts to restrict it as motivated by racism.

The labor federation nevertheless has insisted that guest worker programs in any comprehensive way include mechanisms that allow U.S. workers to get the first opportunity at the jobs before immigrants are given visas.

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