May Day Mobilization in Full Swing
Across the country, many workers, unions, immigrant rights, anti-war and political organizations are together mobilizing for May Day actions. Major demonstrations are being planned for NYC, Washington, DC, Chicago, Phoenix, Houston and Los Angeles. Various other marches and activities are planned in many other areas, in cities large and small across the country. Americans will be joining workers in their many millions around the world standing up for the rights of all and for a society that guarantees those rights.
In the U.S. the National Immigrant Solidarity Network ( www.immigrantsolidarity.org ) is serving as a main clearinghouse for information, announcements, commentary and more. It is providing information and resources for both the major demonstrations and the numerous local activities of all kinds.
All variety of forces are joining in to have press conferences, rallies, conferences and more in preparation for united May Day actions. These include unions, religious forces, rights organizations, youth, women and many more all standing as one for May Day.
Organized with the theme No One is Illegal and We are All Humans With Rights, the main demands being put forward include:
1) No to anti-immigrant legislation and criminalization of the immigrant communities.
The stand being advanced is that of the international working class of An Injury to One is An Injury to All! and All for One and One for All! Here and worldwide, May Day 2007 will no doubt be a vibrant expression of the drive of the working class of all countries to lead the fight for a new world, where the rights of all are guaranteed. All Out for May Day!
DVD Provides Collective Memory and Inspiration for 2007
The Giant Awakens ¡Gigante: Despierta!
The Giant Awakens: In 2006, a historic mobilization for immigrant rights swept the U.S. as millions took the streets. HR 4437, the draconian anti-immigrant legislation passed by the US House of Representatives on December 16, 2005, ignited this massive wave of immigrant rights mobilizations that spread rapidly across the country. Millions of people took the streets in all major cities and many smaller urban areas, with notable and highly visible actions in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and elsewhere. In many places, these marches were larger than any in history.
Mainstream news media predictably covered the marches with a mix of surprise, ignorance, and racism. They gave plenty of airtime to anti-immigrant spokespeople and fringe white supremacist organizations like the Minutemen. They failed almost entirely to do in-depth analysis or to convey the voices of the millions who marched.
Yet grassroots video activists, immigrant rights organizers, and everyday people participating in the mobilizations documented the voices and the stories behind this mass movement with video, audio, photography and texts.
¡Gigante: Despierta! is a DVD compilation of compelling short films from all around the country, due to hit the streets in the weeks before Mayday 2007. Shot, edited, and brought together by a network of independent video activists, graphic designers, community organizers, musicians, and immigrant rights activists, it is a collective memory and a tool to inspire action this MayDay 2007, when the Giant will raise its voice again to say: we are one people, without borders. We are here, and we are here to stay!For more information and to order The Giant Awakens: http://www.gigantedespierta.org
May Day Actions for Immigrant Rights Announced
The National May 1st Movement for Worker and Immigrant Rights held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on March 15 to announce plans for “A Day of No Work, No Shopping, No School.” May 1 will be what the May 1st Movement has dubbed “The Great American Boycott II.”
At the news conference, labor activists, leaders of immigrant-rights groups, antiwar organizers, African American leaders, and representatives of Latino/a and Muslim organizations called for an end to the terrorist attacks, raids and deportations against immigrants nationwide.
Bishop Felipe C. Teixeira of the Immigration Pastoral Center in Massachusetts said that the recent anti-immigrant raids in that state had shown “the face of racism and discrimination. No human being is illegal.” Teixeira spoke of the children’s cries after the Nazi-like raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who hauled away women workers in New Bedford, Mass. The bishop said the number of children left without their mothers was much greater than the news media reported. “Together, united, we can defeatUS imperialism,” he said.
Emma Lozano of the Chicago immigrant rights group Centro Sin Fronteras, which is supporting the right of sanctuary for resister to deportation Elvira Arellano said, “This country has exploited undocumented labor for over a century and grown rich off of it. We are not asking for anything. We are demanding our rights.”
Organizing for the Great American Boycott II is intensifying all over the country in the face of growing ruling-class hostility toward immigrant workers. Thousands of immigrant parents and children are in jail, tens of thousands deported.
Javier Rodriguez, national coordinating committee member who initiated the press conference, said that “mass demonstrations are scheduled for May 1 in cities across the country including: Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York City, San Antonio, Houston, Seattle, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, Providence, R.I., Elizabeth, N.J., Hempstead, N.Y., and many other locations. This broad participation is an indication of the growing unity among U.S. and foreign-born workers.”
At the March 15 news conference, Boston school bus driver and union leader Steve Gilles said all workers are hurt by government policies that divide U.S. and foreign-born workers. Representatives from the Food and Commercial Workers, which represents the workers at the Smithfield, N.C., hog processing plant hit with anti-immigrant raids in December, expressed full support for the boycott. Debanuj Dasgupta of Queers for Economic Justice spoke on the devastating impact of anti-immigrant attacks on over 1 million lesbian/gay/bi/trans people without documents. John Parker, an African American leader in the March 25th Movement in Los Angeles, called for “Black and Brown unity,” and spoke about how centuries of exploitation and oppression unite Black people and immigrants of color. Troops Out Now Coalition leader LeiLani Dowell spoke of the war abroad and the war at home, calling on anti-war activists to support the May 1 action. Day laborers from Freehold, N.J., and Freeport, Long Island, N.Y., spoke of their right to work unmolested, saying, “We are not criminals.”May 1 events in solidarity with immigrants in the United States have also been called by the workers’ movements in Venezuela, Mexico and the Philippines.
ILWU Local 10 and Local 19
Longshore Workers Support
Resolution of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 10, San Francisco, California, Adopted February 15, 2007. [This resolution was later adopted by ILWU Local 19, the longshore local in Seattle, Washington.]
WHEREAS, Local 10 adopted a resolution for our April 2005 Longshore Caucus reclaiming May Day (May 1st) which commemorates the struggle for the 8 (eight) hour work day in the United States;
WHEREAS, Local 10 endorsed May 1st, 2006 and participated in the Great American Boycott to protest the criminalization of immigrant workers by legislation such as HR4437 and the Marine Transportation Security Act’s criminal background checks on dock workers;
WHEREAS, On May 1st, 2006, 90 percent of the container cargo at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach was halted as the result of immigrant truckers not going to work;
WHEREAS, Agribusinesses such as Tyson Foods and Cargill closed down several of their plants in anticipation of immigrant workers not going to work on May 1, 2006 in support of immigrant rights;
WHEREAS, Our own Harry Bridges, an Australian immigrant worker, faced four prosecutions by the U.S. government, was wrongfully convicted, illegally imprisoned, fraudulently stripped of his citizenship, and his attorneys sent to jail for defending him;
WHEREAS, ILWU in 2008, will start very difficult contract negotiations with the employer which requires we start to mobilize our members and build coalitions; and
WHEREAS, Hornblower Cruises has yet to hire skilled and experienced ILWU and other union ferry workers as well as to negotiate a fair contract;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the membership instruct Local 10’s president to convey our intentions of having our stop work meeting on Tuesday, May 1st, 2007 at 9 a.m. to Pacific Maritime Association;
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Local 10 participates in the Great American Boycott II, in support of workers and immigrant rights, including the workers of Hornblower Cruises, on May Day, 2007 and that the ILWU Local 10 Drill Team perform; and
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be sent to all ILWU locals, the International, and affiliated central labor councils.
San Francisco Labor Council Resolution
Support May Day 2007 Actions for Worker and Immigrant Rights
Whereas, on May Day 2006 history was made. The world watched as millions took off from work and school to march for the rights of immigrants and all workers, in the largest International Workers Day demonstrations in the United States in living memory; and
Whereas, the March 25th Coalition, based in Los Angeles, which spearheaded the massive protests for immigrant rights in the spring of 2006 [that were victorious in defeating the repressive HR 4437 Sensenbrenner bill], has joined with a broad coalition of organizations in the Latino, Black, Filipino, Labor and other communities, to form the May 1st National Movement for Worker and Immigrant Rights, calling for mass demonstrations on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 in cities across the country including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York City, San Antonio, Houston, Seattle, Phoenix, San Francisco, Detroit, and many other cities demonstrating “the growing unity among U.S. and foreign born workers”; and
Whereas, the San Francisco Labor Council on April 3, 2006, in a “Resolution in Support of Immigrant Workers” — noting the AFL-CIO’s February 16, 2000 “historic resolution in support of amnesty for immigrant workers” — called for mobilizing in support of “full legalization and equal rights for undocumented immigrants” and supporting the call for the May 1st, 2006 national day of protest; and
Whereas, on May 22, 2006, the San Francisco Labor Council adopted the “National Statement to Support Human and Civil Rights for All Immigrants”, issued by the National Network on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, calling for “fair and just immigration reform for all” and solid worker protections, and opposing then-current legislation which would have created new “guest worker” (transient servitude) programs; and
Whereas, on March 10, 2007, 22 organizations in the immigrant community and their allies came together in San Francisco to begin planning for a march for worker and immigrant rights in San Francisco on May 1, 2007, in conjunction with the national demonstrations; and
Whereas, federal immigration authorities including ICE have been conducting brutal raids on workplaces and people’s homes — from the arrest of 1,300 workers at Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in six states on December 12, 2006, to more recent raids in the Bay Area, at the Smithfield hog processing plant in North Carolina and elsewhere — terrorizing and separating families, intimidating the workers and interfering with union organization at the workplaces, in a massive violation of civil and union rights; therefore be it
Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council endorse and encourage participation in the May Day 2007 marches and other protest activities in San Francisco and cities nationwide, behind the banner of:
Defeat the anti-worker, anti-immigrant and anti-union attacks!
Adopted March 12, 2007 by the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, by unanimous vote.
¡Sí se puede! Spring 2006, millions of different voices speaking as one. One mighty movement extending over thousands of miles, marching last spring on different days in different cities focused on the same goals — defeat HR 4437 and let America know the sleeping giant is awake and striding for freedom. One day we were marching through downtown Chicago, the next down César Chávez Avenue in Los Angeles, on another we were descending on our state capitol in Sacramento, and on another on our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.
Our movement was fueled by waves of school walkouts. Young people leading the way in countless cities and towns, no one can forget that feeling of power. So many of us made the decision then and there, on a march, at a rally, in a church or during a walkout to keep fighting for ourselves, our families, our communities and to never accept less than full equality, complete dignity and total respect.
Sí se puede—the words which gave our grandparents the hope and courage to march with César Chávez became our battle cry for freedom. California has an official state holiday, during which state workers get a paid day off, but most school districts do not honor it. The following states officially recognize the importance of observing Chavez’s birthday but do not give the day off: Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
We say March for Rights!
• Stop the Raids
March in L.A.
March in Oakland
March in Richmond
March in Sacramento
March in San Diego
March in Santa Ana
March in Your Town
Night of 1,000 Conversations
On Thursday, April 5, 2007 thousands of people all across the country will come together in living rooms, basements, back yards, community centers, schools, and places of worship to work towards immigration reform that restores basic civil liberties and human rights, protects our core American values of fairness and justice, and defends due process for everyone.
What The Action Is
• Over 1,000 average folks across the country will host a conversation among a small group (10 – 20 people), of their family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and acquaintances. The action will occur all on the same night: April 5, 2007
Why do it?
• Restore Due Process to our American immigration system
Why do it now? Political Timing
By April, Congress will have a bill, either in their committees or even being debated on the floor. Immigration reform will be at the front of everyone’s attention. With the concrete proposals in hand, we will know exactly what we are facing. This is when the window is open to influence the final decisions. April 5 is during Congressional recess while lawmakers are at home with us.
April 5, 2007 is also a religious season for some people. But even if it’s not for you, this action carves out an opportunity to reflect on our core values, compare them to our current immigration system, and come together to bring our laws back in line with those values.
How It Works
1. Allied Organizations Find Hosts
2. The Hosts then
3. We recommend using a tool to introduce the topic of discussion like:
4. People spend about an hour or two talking about:
Through the Night of 1,000 Conversations we’ll strengthen and grow our teams, we’ll build trust within our communities, we’ll engage one another in action, and we’ll begin to change the understanding of core rights in America.
To join a conversation, contact any of the following organizations and individuals at www.rightsworkinggroup.org
1. Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (AZ) – Kat Rodriguez
Defend the Rights of All Who Live and Work in New Jersey
Immigrants in New Jersey, as in the rest of the United States, are facing increasing attacks. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids are being stepped up, tearing families apart, detaining and deporting those who have lived here for years. Demagogic town governments are taking anti-immigrant measures. Morristown, for example, is planning to deputize its police as ICE agents. Massive workplace raids like the recent one in New Bedford, Massachusetts can happen at any time. A New Jersey radio station, 101.5, has called for people to turn in their neighbors as suspected undocumented immigrants, encouraging vigilantism.
The attacks on migrants are attacks on all of us. They are aimed at maintaining an underclass of workers who are too terrified to assert their rights to decent pay, working conditions and living conditions. No one, not even the government, wants to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants who are vital to the economy. The attacks and anti-immigrant laws aim to drive down the cost of all labor, benefiting employers, pitting worker against worker, and hurting us all.
We are fighting back, immigrants and native-born united! We are speaking out against the attacks and the demagogic proposal in towns like Morristown and Freehold. We are starting to organize a Rapid Response Network which will give aid to those confronting ICE raids or employer abuses of immigrants. We are joining with organizations across the country to organize a Second Great Boycott on May 1. We will be planning these efforts at the March 31 meeting.
Speak out for the rights of all!
We invite your organization’s endorsement and participation in this event and in an April 3 noon press conference in New Brunswick.
Join us on April 2 to support the Danbury 11, a group of eleven Ecuadorian day laborers who were arrested at a pick-up site by a federal agent who was disguised as a contractor, as they have their first court hearing since being released. We are demanding that all charges be dropped and that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) end the violation of the basic rights of immigrants. A victory on April 2 will set the mark for the fight for immigrant rights everywhere in the U.S. A victory for the Danbury 11 will be a victory for immigrants everywhere!
Then come to the meeting April 7 to plan our next steps in the movement for immigrants rights, including May Day actions. Come discuss the recent raids and how to oppose them.
On March 6, more than 300 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided a leather factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts, taking 361 workers into custody. These workers, mostly female, left behind more than 200 children. The workers were taken to an old military facility in Ayer, Massachusetts, after being refused assistance from social workers by ICE, they have been shipped to private prisons in Texas, California, and Pennsylvania.
Homeland Security has disappeared more than 26,000 workers since the large spring mobilizations of May 1, 2006. Its agents are forcibly breaking up families, trampling civil liberties, and violating due process rights. They have attacked union worksites, and day laborer centers and tried to bust union organizing drives. Raids, arrests, and deportations have become a regular feature of life in towns which not one year ago witnessed historic mobilizations for immigrant rights. The attack on New Bedford community is the latest example of ICE terrorizing immigrants everywhere.
Emergency responses to the raids can have an effect. Join immigrants and their supporters from across the Northeast at a public meeting to address this crisis and devise a plan for action.Meeting called by Connecticut Regional Coalition for the Rights of Immigrants. For more information go to www. stoptheraids.org, or call 860-538-3920.
Sacred Walk of Inclusion
All Are Invited to Join Us in an Inter-Faith Prayer Walk in Solidarity with our Immigrant Neighbors.
Throughout the Sacred Walk of Inclusion we will take time for silence, meditation, intercession, and hymns. The march will assemble and then leave from the Southampton Village Hall at 23 Main St. and continue around the corner to Town Hall and then to the Southampton Railroad Station, with stops along the way, arriving at the 7-Eleven on County Rd. 39 and North Sea Road, where day laborers now congregate to find work with our neighbors. We will then circle back to Village Hall where there will be a rally and signing of a book, signifying a pledge to work for inclusion of all the people in our community, especially those whom a vocal minority might want to exclude.
The Shinnecock Indian Nation welcomed and included into the life of their community the first European immigrants who settled in Southampton in 1640. We can find no finer example than to walk in their footsteps. People are encouraged to bring their drums.
Walkers will meet in front of the Southampton Village Hall
Walk will end at the Village Hall with Prayers and Music
Each walker will be invited to sign a registry of welcome and inclusion of everybody in our community. Friday, March 30th, noon to 2:00pm, Southampton, Long Island New York.
Hosted by The Sacred Walk of Inclusion Committee
Contact: Michael O’Neill
Immigrants Action Day For May 1 st
The Latino Immigrant Community at Large including Churches of Nassau and Suffolk, the Citizen’s Committee of Nassau, Employers Coalition of Long Island, Immigrant Coalitions and many others groups, will be announcing May Day actions for Long Island. A Day of Action to demand Congress pass just immigration reform for all is being planned.
Join the Press Conference, Hemstead, NY, Monday, April 2, 2007, 11:00am.
Reject STRIVE Act, Serving Militarization, Criminalization and Annexation
Legislation on immigration was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate in the coming weeks. The legislation is being presented as a reform of immigration law that is “all about security — homeland security, family security and economic security,” as one of the representatives put it. In fact, it is about broad insecurity as -government increases its impunity. It serves the government’s drive to more completely militarize all of society and broadly criminalize all workers and peoples.
Militarization and Criminalization
The bill calls for creating 20 mass concentration camps to hold at least 20,000 people, detained by the -government for any reason. The two camps already in existence show that whole families will be detained, having committed no crime. It includes -arrangements for using the National Guard from any state in the border states, under the command of the Secretary of Homeland Security, which is not currently done. It mandates programs to use state and local police for enforcement of federal immigration laws, which is currently illegal. Such enforcement will necessarily mean detaining people without cause on the basis of racist profiling, thus codifying profiling in law.
While the legislation expressly prohibits a “national identification card,” it specifically requires a biometric identification card for all workers. The bill claims this is for the purpose of identifying workers “not authorized to work by the government.” The fact that the ID card is being directed to all workers can be seen in the requirement that all workers in “critical infrastructure” will be the first to have the ID. The biometric cards are to be part of an “Electronic Employment Verification System,” for use by employers to screen all workers.
This entire ID system creates the concept that only those “authorized” by the government will be permitted to work and only those with required documentation, as decided by the government, will be “authorized.” The rest, no doubt, will be detained in the planned concentration camps or exiled to a civil death as non-persons altogether. This is further indicated by the fact that the law makes it a crime to work if you are not “authorized” and a crime to “falsely attest to being authorized” when you are not.
If the government requirements to meet demands for documentation as a citizen for Medicare are any indication, literally millions of citizens will find themselves “unauthorized” to work and considered non-persons right alongside noncitizens, because they do not have the required documents. This is the fate of millions of women and children kicked off Medicare because they cannot produce both an original birth certificate and drivers license. This reality indicates that the law is not serving to provide for immigrants or workers or security, but to impose civil death on any the government decides while also making it a crime to work.
It will also be a crime to evade border inspection, meaning any illegal entries are now felony crimes. At present it is a civil offense to cross the border without going through a port of entry. As well, more crimes have been created as a means to further criminalize not only immigrants and workers but those who defend them. It will be a crime to provide housing or rides to undocumented workers, for example. Millions of undocumented workers and the tens of millions of people who are related to undocumented immigrants, their friends, their defenders and supporters are made into felons simply with passage of this law. In this way, the law is a modern-day Fugitive Slave Act that must be rejected.
The bill includes what its sponsors call “earned” citizenship. This is part of the “new worker program.” Everyone has to register with the government and secure the biometric ID card.
The program is designed to provide monopolies in all sectors of the economy with a ready pool of workers. While it claims the workers will receive the same wages and conditions as existing workers, it has little to actually enforce such requirements. The U.S. is notorious for its programs claiming to provide decent wages and working conditions while in fact the conditions faced by most undocumented workers are slave-like conditions. This includes many examples today of workers brought in from Mexico and Central America. Their passports are confiscated, workers are often kept under guard and forced to live in tents or shacks for months without pay — and then deported. The law does not make it a crime not to meet the wages and working conditions it mandates.
On citizenship, it puts in law a whole series of special requirements for undocumented workers to “earn” citizenship, including fees and fines. Rather than putting in place a common standard for the rights and duties of citizenship and a single process for all applying for citizenship, the law sanctions a double standard. And given that the conception of “earned” citizenship is being codified in law, there can be little doubt that such requirements will eventually be extended to everyone. Only those “authorized” by the government, using whatever requirements it decides, will be citizens.
Annexation Efforts Mandated
The bill also “requires the U.S., Mexican and Canadian governments to work together to establish a program relating to the needs of the countries of Central America” including on issues of “law enforcement assistance.” It mandates the three countries to work on developing a single “North American perimeter,” and exchange of information on North American security. It includes a 20 percent increase, every year from 2008-2012, in border patrols for the Canadian border, as well as use of unmanned aerial vehicles to “patrol the international borders of the U.S. and Canada.” It also further militarizes the Mexican border and includes 11,600 more border patrols and 3700 more customs inspectors and investigators.
Like the laws requiring the U.S. to determine Iraq’s affairs, this law is mandating U.S. efforts to annex Canada and Mexico, and interfere in the affairs of the countries of Central America, using immigration and law enforcement as justifications. The U.S. has no business doing “law enforcement” in Mexico and Canada! U.S. laws, by law, cannot require other governments to do anything. Yet this bill attempts to do exactly that.
The bill itself is 697 pages long and will require further review and analysis. But what is already clear is that it will further criminalize the workers and peoples. It is being introduced right as May Day actions with their call No One is Illegal are being prepared. While the ruling circles no doubt think this will provide a diversion, in fact many organizations are already denouncing the bill and utilizing it as a basis for stepping up resistance. Like the anti-war movement;s demand that the war against Iraq end now, workers together are demanding an end to the government’s war on immigrants, proclaiming We Are All Human Beings with Rights! An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
Immigration Policy Should Protect Human Rights
For the last several months, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have carried out well-publicized immigration raids in factories, meatpacking plants, janitorial services and other workplaces employing immigrants. ICE calls the workers “criminals,” because immigration law forbids employers to hire them.
But while workers get deported and often must leave their children with relatives, or even strangers, don’t expect to see their employers to go to jail. Further, ICE can’t, and won’t, deport all 12 million undocumented workers in the country. This would quickly halt many industries. Instead, these raids have a political purpose.
Last fall, after agents raided Swift & Company meatpacking plants, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the media the deportations would show Congress the need for “stronger border security, effective interior enforcement and a temporary-worker program.” Bush wants, he said, “a program that would allow businesses that need foreign workers, because they can’t otherwise satisfy their labor needs, to be able to get those workers in a regulated program.”
In his recent visit to Mexico, President Bush again proposed new guest worker programs. He would allow corporations and contractors to recruit hundreds of thousands of workers a year outside of the U.S., and put them to work here on temporary, employment-based visas.
Last week, Congressmen Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill into Congress that would set up the kind of guest worker program the president calls for. Corporations could bring in 400,000 guest workers annually, while the kind of sanctions that have led to the wave of workplace raids would be put on steroids.
Labor schemes like this have a long history. From 1942 to 1964, the bracero program recruited temporary immigrants, who were exploited, cheated, and deported if they tried to go on strike. Growers pitted them against workers already in the country to drive down wages. Cesar Chavez and other Latino leaders campaigned to get the program repealed.
Advocates of today’s programs avoid the bitter “bracero” label, and call them “guest worker,” or “essential worker,” or just “new worker” schemes. You can’t clean up an unpleasant reality, however, by renaming it.
Guest worker programs are low-wage schemes, intended to supply plentiful labor to corporate employers at a price they want to pay. Companies don’t recruit guest workers so they can pay them more, but to pay them less. According to Rob Rosado, director of legislative affairs for the American Meat Institute, meatpackers want a guest worker program, but not a basic wage guarantee for those workers. “We don’t want the government setting wages,” he says. “The market determines wages.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s recent report, Close to Slavery, shows that current guest worker programs allow labor contractors to maintain blacklists of workers who work slowly or demand their rights. Public interest lawyers spend years in court, trying just to get back wages for cheated immigrants. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor almost never decertifies contractors who abuse workers.
The AFL-CIO opposes guest worker programs, and says immigrants should be given permanent residence visas, so they have labor rights and can become normal members of the communities they live in. Since 1999, the AFL-CIO has called for legalization of the 12 million people living in the U.S. without documents. Most unions oppose employer sanctions and the recent immigration raids, because they’re often used to threaten and punish workers when they speak out for better wages and conditions.
Today over 180 million people in the world already live outside the countries where they were born. In the countries that are the main sources of migration to the U.S., trade agreements like NAFTA and market-based economic reforms have uprooted hundreds of thousands of farmers and workers, leaving them little option other than coming north.
A rational immigration policy should end trade and investment policies abroad that produce poverty and displace people. In the U.S., immigration policy should emphasize rights and equality, and protect all families and communities — of immigrants and native-born alike.
Using immigration raids instead as a pressure tactic to get Congress to approve guest worker programs is not a legitimate use of enforcement. It undermines the family and community values for which this country stands.