The Service Employees International Union, one of the strongest supporters of comprehensive immigration reform in the labor movement, issued a statement to reporters today lamenting that senators beefed up the border protection provisions in the bill currently being debated. SEIU was upset that so many more border patrol agents would be hired. Nevertheless, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina said in the statement (which is not available online) that the union was still backing the bill:
In any compromise, there will always be gains and losses. This agreement is no exception. Although we commend the Senators’ commitment to immigration reform and engaging in bipartisanship — a rarity in Congress — we seem to have gained more border armory and fortification than reason.
The exchange to guarantee more Republican support comes at a high cost with millions of dollars more in investment to border security, as if it didn’t already get enough funding. Combined with the benchmarks already in place in the bill, the excessive border provisions make a mark in our history and our pockets. This is disappointing and we will undoubtedly work to ensure that the overall legislation respects the rights of border communities and migrants. (Emphasis added.)
That said, the centerpiece of the bill, the roadmap to citizenship, is priceless and an absolute necessity to a smart and sensible immigration bill. The Corker-Hoeven amendment doesn’t undo it, nor should any other amendment.
Now, members of Congress who were demanding tougher border security measures in the bill can prove that their concerns over the issue aren’t a ruse meant to delay the path to citizenship or create a second-class status by demonstrating support for the amendment and moving forward with the legislation. Mr. Cornyn and others can’t complain – they’ve gained more border resources than necessary.
Americans understand that the single best way to make our immigration system more secure is to create an earned path out of the shadows for 11 million people. It’s time to join the majority of Americans, championing commonsense immigration reform. When poll after poll, including a recent Fox News survey, finds that voters on both sides of the aisle want Congress to find a way for the millions of hardworking immigrants to remain in the country and earn citizenship, it’s time to deliver.
Hmm, I wonder what the SEIU’s union brothers and sisters at the National ICE Council think of this.