Republican Demand for Poverty Wages Stalls Immigration Bill Negotiations

by Jackie Tortora

Republican-Demand-for-Poverty-Wages-Stalls-Immigration-Bill-Negotiations_medium(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.  Continue reading

Immigration Reform and the Jobs Dilemma

by Brendan Walsh

Photo by  Anuska Sampedro Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Anuska Sampedro Flickr Creative Commons

Having flexed their muscle in November’s elections, Latino voters momentarily had Republican elected officials, especially in Arizona, falling over themselves in an effort to appear more friendly to the state’s Hispanic communities. Infamous sheriff Joe Arpaio, when announcing his intention to run for reelection in 2016, made an effort to reach out to Latinos in Maricopa County. Five days after the election, Governor Brewer announced that she was “fine and dandy” with the idea of immigration reform (before quickly backtracking). And Senator John McCain told Fox news that, in order to create a “bigger tent,” Republicans “have to do immigration reform.”

These remarkable developments had many advocates of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) feeling as if the wind is at our backs, and that CIR will finally be a reality in 2013. Those advocates, however, would be wise to keep in mind, especially now, the fact that the fight for immigrants’ rights in the United States involves addressing the continued consolidation of corporate power in this country, and won’t be won simply by leveraging the minimum number of congressional votes for a least-common-denominator CIR package. Nor will it be won without a significant change in our public discourse about jobs.

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Why Immigration Is a Top Priority for US Labor

by Amy Dean

Maria Elena Durazo speaks during the Action Summit on Worker Safety and Health at East Los Angeles College, April 26, 2012. (Photo: Susan Goldman / US Department of Labor)

Maria Elena Durazo speaks during the Action Summit on Worker Safety and Health at East Los Angeles College, April 26, 2012. (Photo: Susan Goldman / US Department of Labor)

Immigrants’ rights are workers’ rights. These days, that idea is a principle held dear by the US labor movement. But that wasn’t always the case.

As recently as the mid-1990s, many unions took protectionist stances against allowing new immigrants to come to this country. It was only after these unions saw the abuses that became prevalent under an employer-driven system for verifying immigration status that the labor movement embraced a new position. The movement recognized that for working people to thrive, all employees had to have full rights in the workplace.

Today, labor is one of the key forces pushing for comprehensive immigration reform in Washington, DC. To learn more about the movement’s advocacy and more about how unions transformed themselves into outspoken champions of immigrant rights, I spoke with Maria Elena Durazo. A daughter of Mexican immigrant farm workers, Durazo rose to become the leader of the hotel and restaurant workers union in Los Angeles, the dynamic UNITE HERE Local 11. And, as chair of the national AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee, Durazo is now a leading point person in the national immigration debate.

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SEIU’s Medina Applauds President Obama Move Towards Immigration Reform

Eliseo Medina

SEIU’s International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina attended the President Obama’s  president’s address yesterday  in El Paso , Texas and made the following statement:

“President Obama is to be commended for leading a forthright discussion on one of the more vexing issues facing our nation: immigration reform. By keeping attention on the issue and uniting divergent interests from across the political spectrum, the president is challenging the nation to set aside divisive politics and find real solutions.

“Congress needs to listen. For years, Republicans have blocked congressional debate on comprehensive immigration reform with the false argument – proven wrong many times over – that securing the border was a pre-requisite for comprehensive immigration reform. Their repeated stalling tactic is calling for securing the border before engaging in a debate on other reforms that would resolve the status of undocumented workers and their families already here and also level the playing field for all workers.

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SEIU’s Medina: We Are Ready For Reform, But Where Are The Republicans?

Eliseo Medina

WASHINGTON, DC – At a White House meeting today, President Obama pushed a broad spectrum of labor, business and community leaders to re-engage in the fight for comprehensive immigration solutions. Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, issued the following statement:

“SEIU appreciates President Obama’s continued attention to one of the most difficult, yet critical issues of our time, our nation’s dysfunctional immigration system.
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Eliseo Medina, SEIU VP, speaks at “civil rights in modern era” panel at Netroots Nation

Eliseo Medina, international vice president of the Service Employees International Union, spoke at a panel on “civil rights in the modern era” at the just concluded Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas.  Medina reviewed the impact of Arizona’s SB 1070.

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