The largest labor organization in the United States on Tuesday launched a national immigration training plan called "We Rise!" to help Hispanics take advantage of the immigration relief measures announced by President Barack Obama last November.
The effort is designed to reach, mobilize and organize immigrant workers in their workplaces and in their communities.
The AFL-CIO on Tuesday in Washington began preparing representatives who have arrived from all over the country to support and teach undocumented workers how to request protection under Deferred Action, or DACA, for children born in the United States and under DAPA for parents of permanent residents.
The expansion of DACA and the entry into force of DAPA have been temporarily blocked by a Texas judge, although the U.S. government says it is confident that immigrants' applications will be able to be processed soon after appeals are presented. The plan could benefit some five million undocumented foreigners.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka opened the three-day event by saying that the union wants to end the exploitation of immigrant workers who are vulnerable due to their irregular situation and to welcome them to the "house of labor."
Trumka emphasized that the millions of immigrants who would benefit under Obama's immigration measures are Americans "in every way except on paper."
Obama's measures to prevent the deportation of immigrants with strong roots in the United States and without criminal records were taken by executive action because Democrats and Republicans in Congress could not get the immigration reform that they all feel is necessary approved.
Trumka said that immigration reform is the greatest struggle of our time and a matter with implications for the future of the union movement, demands for better pay and opposition to free trade treaties.
"The voices against immigration reform, if you brush everything else aside, are really colored by bigotry," he added.
One of the regional union representatives involved in the effort said at the start of the program that immigrant workers' irregular status is "the greatest repressive labor tool in existence."
Taking advantage of DACA and DAPA would regularize the situation of millions of workers, allow them access to medical coverage, provide them with fiscal benefits and the certainty that they will not continue living under the risk of being deported or separated from their families.