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SEIU keeps busy on job hunt front

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 8/17/2011, 2:53 p.m.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is fighting on behalf of immigrants and jobs. As part of their efforts, a couple of weeks ago they released a collective statement on the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit against Alabama's controversial new immigration law.

"The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has rightly taken a strong stand against Alabama's radical immigration law by filing a lawsuit challenging its validity," said the statement. "SEIU has previously joined civil rights organizations in challenging the Alabama law and strongly commends the DOJ's entry into this case."

"In filing this lawsuit, the DOJ is reasserting control over immigration policy, just as it did with Arizona's S.B. 1070 law, based on the fundamental constitutional principle that immigration policy must be decided at the federal level and not by state or local governments," the statement continued. "States cannot make up their own immigration laws any more than they can print their own money or enter into treaties with foreign countries. Furthermore, the Alabama law conflicts with federal enforcement of immigration laws."

In Alabama, immigration opponents have targeted every aspect of immigrants' daily lives, seeking to make their mere existence so difficult that they will flee the state.

"The law restricts employment, housing, transportation, contractual agreements and even education for the children of undocumented immigrants. Under the Alabama law, children must prove their lawful presence, thus discouraging parents from enrolling their children in school. The education of all children is a basic principle of our nation and Alabama should not be an exception," the SEIU statement said.

But while the SEIU is fighting on behalf of immigrants, it's also fighting for of job creation, particularly targeting Republicans.

"In an effort to refocus Republican lawmakers on the need for job creation, the 2.1 million nurses, janitors, security officers, child care providers and other members of the Service Employees International Union today unveiled a seven-figure ad campaign, including broadcast and cable television, radio, direct mail and phones and online advertising," said an organization spokesperson last week.

"Rather than turning their attention to the jobs crisis, Republican leaders are narrowly and exclusively focused on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans," said Brandon Davis, national political director of SEIU. "Republican leaders' tone-deafness to our country's need for jobs is devastating African-American and Latino communities, which are bearing the brunt of unemployment on a crippling scale.

"Time and time again, Republican leaders have demonstrated that they are willing to take the country to the brink of disaster in order to vigorously protect the interests of big oil, millionaires and companies that ship jobs overseas," Davis continued.

As of last week, America's unemployment rate was 9.1 percent, with 16 percent of African-Americans and 11 percent of Latinos currently jobless. The SEIU's ads will run in Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Montana, Virginia and Nevada, with a special emphasis on African-American and Latino media outlets.

"Working families in communities across the country are sending a message loud and clear that this country must get back to work," said Davis. "Elected leaders will be judged by their effectiveness in getting this done."