Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Today's front page of the New York Times reports that the AFL-CIO and the unions affiliated with Change to Win are announcing a unified set of principles supporting comprehensive immigration reform. This wide agreement on the need for reform across organized labor that includes a legalization component for undocumented immigrants is seen as an important sign that President Barack Obama's reform agenda will have the power to move forward. The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan pro-immigrant advocacy organization based in Washington:
Organized labor - the legitimate voice of working class Americans - is for an immigration solution for America. Labor realizes, as do the faith, business and immigrant communities, that the sooner we get immigrants into the system, on the books, protected by labor laws and paying their full-share of taxes, the better it is for all workers in the labor force and all employers who want to play by the rules. Comprehensive immigration reform will reduce illegal immigration, ensure that workers are here legally, punish unscrupulous employers who undercut their honest competitors, and will restore fairness to the labor market. The goal is to establish a level playing field for all workers, lift wages, restore tax fairness, and eliminate the unfair advantage for employers playing fast and loose with the law. How can you fix the U.S. economy when five percent of the workforce is outside the system, uncovered by minimum wage, health and safety laws, and other labor laws? How can American workers assert their rights when so many have none? This is why we need reform now. Comprehensive immigration reform will lift up the economy, and today's announcement makes it clear that the unions know it. We have worked with individual unions for years to reform immigration laws. When labor moves forward in a unified fashion, their power to move policies for the betterment of the American worker is a game changer.