Immigration Reform May Come with Big Gifts to Employers

Immigration reform could get 11 million undocumented workers on the path to citizenship, but watch out for poison pills that compromise workers’ rights. Photo: Promise Arizona.

A version of this article appeared in Labor Notes #408, March 2013. Don't miss an issue, subscribe today.
Samantha Winslow is co-director of Labor


davidbacon | 02/22/13

Labornotes readers might be interested in the exchange/dialogue that took place on the Labornotes webpage when the AFL-CIO and CTW issued their position on immigration reform, the document that guides their present position. The URL is: It would have been a good idea for this article to have also interviewed people supporting a much more progressive and pro-labor reform proposal, the Dignity Campaign, which involves groups around the country including several labor councils and unions, LCLAA, day labor centers, farm worker organizations and longtime immigrant rights defenders. This proposal has been the progressive pole in the national debate over immigration reform for at least the last three years. For unions and workers, the repeal of employer sanctions (not simply saying that E-Verify shouldn't be expanded) is a longtime progressive demand, because it is the basis for E-Verify and I-9 audits, which have led to the firings of thousands of undocumented workers. In addition, this demand is what we fought for and won at the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles in 1999. I was surprised at the absence here of any voices calling for the elimination of guest worker programs, the historic demand of labor activists dating back to Bert Corona, Ernesto Galarza and Cesar Chavez. Progressive labor and immigrant rights activists have also called for scrapping, or at least renegotiating NAFTA, CAFTA and other trade agreements and structural adjustment policies as part of immigration reform, because they cause massive poverty and displacement of people and make their migration a matter of survival.