AFL/CIO boss John Sweeney is “very optimistic” on achieving comprehensive immigration reform and wants to meet Irish groups on ways to bring it about.
Sweeney, the son of Irish immigrants who settled in The Bronx spoke in an exclusive interview with Irish Central.com.
“We’re all sons and daughters of immigrants — that is something I cite all the time. We need to help solve this issue once and for all.”
Sweeney said that he and his union leadership on this issue wanted to meet with the Irish to discus ways of working together to bring about immigration reform. 'We think that there is much to gain by working together with the immigrant groups," he said.
Recently Sweeney from the AFL/CIO and Change to Win leader Joe Hansen agreed to join forces in a common effort to bring about immigration reform.
In the process they healed one of the major splits in the immigration reform lobby. During the last effort at immigration reform the two major unions could not agree a common agenda and their support was badly lacking.
Sweeney said, “I really think there is a great opportunity here. The chances are good, the organizations are coming together , the Labor movement is united like never before on this question.
“I don’t know how soon it can be achieved” Sweeney said, "but I do know that the president is committed to lead, that is a crucial factor.”
Sweeney said that opposition to the bill "can be overcome."
"It has to be,” he said. “We have to have immigration reform, we have to have the same protection for all and end the exploitation of workers. This is a great and unique opportunity with this president to address all this.”
Calling President Obama “Very impressive, very smart”, Sweeney said: "I think he is is what we see. He handles issues in a forthright way, his own focus is very clear. He is incredibly articulate and I believe he will provide leadership on this.”