(March 22) A bill that creates a commonsense immigration process for America’s 11 million aspiring citizens is in jeopardy because of Republican demands for poverty wages.
Key Republican senators in the “Gang of Eight“, negotiating on the behalf of the business community, corporations and the extreme right-wing, rejected adding language to the bill that would ensure new W-visas would only be issued when employing foreign workers would not hurt wages and working conditions of workers already in the United States.
This language is already a longstanding law for other employment-based visa programs including the H-2B programs, yet Republicans are carrying the water for corporations, who at a time of the greatest income inequality since the great depression, are urging the United States Congress to further institutionalize inequality and poverty.
The GOP’s greed and insistence on ensuring new Americans are paid poverty wages is standing in the way of 11 million aspiring citizens being able to come out of the shadows, gain workplace rights and protections and be reunited with their families.
Ana Avendano, assistant to the AFL-CIO president for immigration and community action, told Erica Werner of the Associated Press:
It’s shocking to us that the Republicans are willing to hold up the bill and they’re saying that this bill is not moving forward without poverty level wages….So we’re hopeful that they will see the light and recognize how important this issue is and agree to move forward.
The Republican Party and Tea Party this week also acknowledged a road map to citizenship must be part of the final bill. Even Republican Sen. Rand Paul acknowledged a road map to citizenship is an essential tenet of an immigration system that lifts all workers.
Despite this setback on one potential aspect of immigration policy reform, the labor movement remains heartened by the news of the week and will continue to build the campaign across the country for citizenship.
Read more about the united labor movement’s immigration principles for creating a commonsense immigration process.
Jackie Tortora is blog editor and social media manager at the AFL-CIO. This post first appeared on the AFL-CIO Now blog.