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Unions and other worker organizing groups widely praised President Barack Obama's immigration reform speech, as you'd expect. After all, the president and worker groups are on the same page about the urgency of immigration reform and the need for a path to citizenship, among other things. But going beyond the general commendations, responses the speech yielded specifics that give a sense of areas of concern that unions and other groups will be keeping an eye on—and ready to fight for. Though the president's speech and the Senate framework on immigration are reason to be "hopeful," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, "hope is not a plan. That’s why America’s unions are undertaking a national campaign to ensure that Congress passes a genuinely comprehensive plan in 2013."

"Genuinely comprehensive" is one key. "This road needs to be open to all who dream of a better life in the United States—not just those with advanced degrees," National Domestic Workers Alliance director Ai-jen Poo noted. "It is imperative that the domestic workforce be given the chance to step out of the shadows and continue the work they do every day to make all work in this nation possible."

And those workers' voices need to be heard on the road to reform. In that vein, the United Workers Congress, a coalition of groups representing workers excluded from the right to organize, called for "immediate steps taken to allow full participation of workers in this debate," such as an immediate stop to deportations.

The guest worker provisions in immigration reform are obviously a key concern for unions across industries. For instance, the Communications Workers of America "will monitor any proposed changes to visa programs like the H-1B visa, which are sought after by business but have cost U.S. technicians and other workers tens of thousands of jobs." For United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, meanwhile, the concern is "The bipartisan group of senators’ ambiguous and vague references to the existing H-2A agricultural guest worker program, and the suggestion that it should be replaced with a new visa program." The specific concerns around H-1B and H-2A visas are different, but the big questions are the same: preventing the establishment of large groups of guest workers who, lacking labor protections, would be vulnerable to abuses themselves and used to undercut wages and working conditions for other workers.

These are issues unions and worker groups have been dealing with for years. "This issue is personal for UFCW members," UFCW President Joe Hansen said. "Many watched in horror during the 2006 ICE raids as hundreds of documented and undocumented workers were detained and harassed just for doing their jobs." UNITE HERE President D Taylor spoke to the aspirations of many of his union's members, saying, "We look forward to a time before long when the aspiring citizens in UNITE HERE and in our country will be welcomed as full and equal Americans."

UAW President Bob King, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina also had statements praising the moving toward immigration reform.

Please join with Daily Kos and Workers' Voice by signing our petition supporting President Obama's call for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:21 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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