Workplace Immigration Enforcement Trampled On Workers' Rights, Report Says

Workplace raids by immigration authorities have “severely interfered with the protection of labor rights for immigrant workers,” according to a new report released Tuesday by labor organizations.

A July 27, 2008, pro-immigration reform march in Postville, Iowa, in support of workers at Agriproccessors plant - Photo: Prairie Robin/Flickr

A July 27, 2008, pro-immigration reform march in Postville, Iowa, in support of workers at Agriproccessors plant. (Photo: Prairie Robin/Flickr)

“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 about substandard wages, unsafe conditions, and lack of benefits, or to demand their right to bargain collectively,” reads the report prepared by the National Employment Law Project, the AFL-CIO, and the American Rights at Work Education Fund (click here for pdf).

The report comes as the Obama administration has continued many of the Bush-era enforcement policies, although work-site raids have been scaled back since the Democrats took over in January. Nevertheless, local police forces with immigration enforcement powers –like Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose federal contract was scaled back— had until recently continued to conduct these operations.


Labor Federations Announce Support For Immigration Reform … With Conditions

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Two major labor federations have announced they will support immigration reform –albeit with some conditions– providing a boost to President Obama’s plan to address this thorny issue.

Labor unions want an immigration system that works for Americas workers. (Photo: Change to Win)

Unions want "an immigration system that works for America's workers." (Photo: Change to Win)

Leaders of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and of rival federation Change to Win told The New York Times they will support an immigration reform plan that includes a path to legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants, but they will oppose any expansion of guest worker programs that bring immigrants temporarily into the country.

“The accord could give President Obama significant support among unions as he revisits the stormy issue in the midst of the recession,” reporters Julia Preston and Steven Greenhouse wrote.

Later on Tuesday, the labor leaders announced a “unity framework” composed of five main points:

  1. The creation of an independent commission to allocate employment visas based on real market needs and not on “political compromise.”
  2. A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism.
  3. “Rational operational control” of the border.
  4. “Adjustment of status for the current undocumented population.”
  5. Improvement of the existing temporary worker programs, but not “a new ‘indentured’ or ‘guest worker’ initiative.”

Support from the powerful labor organizations —Change to Win includes the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union, food and commercial workers and farmworkers— can be important in pushing an immigration reform bill through Congress. President Obama and White House aides have recently said they intend to start introducing a comprehensive reform initiative as soon as next month — and the controversial issue has been getting more attention in the last couple of weeks.