Education International
Education International

USA: Education unionists mobilise for immigration reform

published 19 August 2013 updated 30 August 2013

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), one of EI’s national affiliates, has called on the US House of Representatives to adopt legislation initiating a comprehensive immigration reform.

“In June, the Senate acted, passing a bipartisan bill that lays out a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “Now it’s time for House members to listen to their constituents and to the will of the country. Americans are demanding: Give us a vote on citizenship!”

She stressed that “poll after poll shows that a majority of the American people—and that includes Republicans—want our broken immigration system to be fixed. They want a balanced approach to reform, and they strongly support the path to citizenship. If a House vote were to be held right now, a bipartisan majority would say ‘Yes’ to comprehensive reform. But, as we’ve seen in this congressional session, a minority is able to stop the momentum.”

Campaigns to push reform

In the next four weeks, immigration reform advocates—labour, immigration-rights organisations, faith-based groups, and the business community—are planning a major strategic blitz to ensure that democracy holds sway at this historic moment, Weingarten said. The push will include rallies, community forums, town hall meetings, legislative visits and phone calls, as well as advertising campaigns focused on targeted congressional districts across the country, she detailed.

The message is that fixing the US’s broken immigration system is a just and moral imperative, Weingarten underlined. It will boost the national and state economies and send a positive message to rapidly growing and powerful voting constituencies, she said.

The AFT is also working with the Alliance for Citizenship and the national trade union confederation, AFL-CIO, to coordinate events in 57 House districts in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, and New Jersey.

Click here to learn more about the AFT American Dream website dedicated to immigration issues.

EI: Immigration leads to quality education

“EI believes that immigration is beneficial for a society, in the US or anywhere else around the globe,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “Mobility equips migrants, students and teachers with new skills, experience and expertise. And it promotes cultural and information exchange, innovation and the creation of vital international networks improving the quality of education systems and stimulating economic development in both the sending and receiving countries.”

Trade unions have a major role to play to ensure that policies protecting and guaranteeing migrant teachers and students’ rights are adopted, he added.

No discrimination against migrant students and teachers

The EI Resolution on Teacher Migration and Mobility adopted at the 6th EI World Congress in 2011 also encourages the governments of the receiving countries to take specific measures to ensure that all the children (including children of migrants with or without documentation) have the right to a quality education, in equal conditions.

It also underlines “the fundamental role which could be played by quality public education, based on values aimed at building citizenship for everyone in the processes of the positive integration of immigrants”.

EI calls on its member organisations, teachers and concerned citizens to exert pressure on their public authorities to improve the conditions of service for all skilled education personnel in order to reduce the factors that cause brain drain and to facilitate the return of migrants with mutual benefits to both source and receiving countries.

EI has also established a Teacher Migration Taskforce comprising representatives from both source and destination countries. And it is developing a virtual Global Network of Migrant Teachers, facilitating the sharing of information and ideas on this topic.

The full text of the 2011 EI Resolution on Teacher Migration and Mobility can be read here.