A project of the Center for Community Change

Labor

A CBO Report Came Out On Tuesday

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a report that shows the Senate immigration reform bill is good for the economy. The report states that the bill would actually reduce the federal budget deficits by $175 billion over the next 10 years and by $700 billion over the following decade.  The report argues that instead of having government pay for the services of millions of immigrants, the legislation will in fact be a boon to our economy as a larger labor force yields more in tax payments.

For more information, http://cfor.cc/13SNTq9

Labor Groups make the case for immigration reform

icedout

This post, from guest-blogger Paco Fabian of America’s Voice, highlights why immigration reform is important to ensure ALL workers’ rights, not just immigrant workers.

Today, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), American Rights at Work (ARAW), and the National Employment Law Project (NELP) are releasing a report, “ICED Out: How Immigration Enforcement Has Interfered with Workers’ Rights,” which documents, according to the ARAW press advisory:

How the federal government’s approach to immigration enforcement in the recent past has severely undermined efforts to protect workers’ rights, to the detriment of immigrant and native-born workers alike.

The reports examines the Bush Administration’s workplace immigration enforcement actions between 2006 and 2008 and it describes, in devastating detail, the problems associated with prioritizing immigration enforcement over labor law enforcement.

Contributing authors Ana Avendaño (AFL-CIO), Julia Martinez Ortega (ARAW), and Rebecca Smith (NELP), will be joined by two immigrant workers, Josue Diaz and Saravan Chelvan at AFL-CIO headquarters today in Washington DC to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations — primarily, “how the division between labor and immigration enforcement has eroded, and what the administration and federal agencies can do to restore the balance.”According to Smith:

In recent years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have taken actions against workers who complained about non-payment of wages, who were injured on the job, trying to exercise collective bargaining rights or who were victims of discrimination. The single-minded focus on immigration enforcement has allowed employers to profit by employing a workforce too terrified to make complaints.  The report recommends common-sense rules that will provide policy coherence between enforcement of immigration laws and protection of labor rights.

The report finds “in recent years, with the rise of workplace raids and with more governmental agencies, such as state and local police, involved in immigration enforcement, the government has trampled on the labor rights of workers;” that the “single-minded focus on immigration enforcement without regard to violations of workplace laws has enabled employers with rampant labor and employment violations to profit by employing workers who are terrified to complain;” and that  “ICE actions have created incentives for shady employers to continue hiring and abusing undocumented workers, since the deportation of their employees may excuse those employers from complying with labor laws.”No example is clearer on these points then the Postville Iowa raids that took place in May 2008.

In the spring, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win (CTW) agreed to a common framework for comprehensive immigration reform.  Their plan includes a path to legal status for undocumented workers and a commission to regulate the entry of workers in the future, in addition to labor protections and enforcement standards to guard against the types of abuse described in the study released today. In the words of Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice:

The key to making our immigration system work is to make all immigrant workers are legal, ensure that employers are hiring legally, and enforce all labor protections aggressively.  This combination will create an equal playing field for workers and employers who are complying with the law, and allow for tough and targeted enforcement against those who don’t.  The only way such a system will come into being is if Congress steps up and fashions a 2qst century immigration system that promotes, rather than undermines, legal immigration, legal hiring, and worker protections.

Why immigration reform will help strengthen the middle class

Jan 21.DC 1

As we continue to gear up in the fight for immigration reform, we have seen immigrants thrown under the bus during the health care debates. Unsurprisingly, immigration gets tossed into the debate as a wedge issue, sure to destroy any hope of a sensible, grounded policy debate.

When it comes to discussions about the economy, its no different. Time and time again I’ve heard people yell about how immigrants are “taking away jobs” or that immigration reform in the current economic climate is “crazy” or “impossible”. I have stood with others who have argued calmly that immigration reform would actually help bolster our economy and that the contributions of immigrants (regardless of status) to this country are invaluable.

A new report from the Drum Major Institute clearly outlines why immigration reform would help not only immigrant by all American workers, especially the middle class. We have been making the case for a while that when we promote an economy that exploits undocumented immigrants, we are promoting an economy that can exploit all workers, regardless of status. The new report from DMI gives even more credit to those claims.

From Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class:

In the depths of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Americans have nevertheless rejected the impulse to blame immigrants for their economic woes and instead show strong and growing support for legalizing undocumented immigrants. This report was written to encourage a new immigration reform package driven by the needs of the nation’s middle class and low-income American workers striving to stay afloat through the economic crisis and earn a middle-class standard of living.

We reveal that the American middle class relies on the economic contributions of immigrants both authorized and undocumented, but also that the exploitation of undocumented immigrant workers threatens to drive labor standards down for current and aspiring middle-class workers.

You can click here to read a full version of the report, but I think there are two major takeaways from the publication:

  • Immigration reform is necessary. Current immigration policy fails the middle class because it is disconnected from our nation’s economic reliance on undocumented immigrants, and threatens to undermine the middle class because these undocumented workers cannot exercise workplace rights.
  • Immigration reform can be done in a way that strengthens not only immigrants’ rights but ALL worker’s rights

I think that this angle on the push for immigration reform is clearly shown in the unprecedented support campaigns like the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign have seen from Labor unions. This is not just about immigrants, its about all Americans.

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