I can’t remember how old I was before I knew my father was undocumented. By the time I was 5 or 6, my father’s long and arduous journey from Michoacán, Mexico, to our small American town of Redwood City, Calif., had already become part of our family lore. I heard how hard and exhausting it was for him, as a young boy and then a teen, to have to work every day picking cotton, strawberries and grapes in 100-degree heat. His stories captured my imagination when I considered how hard he worked and how far he had come to make a better life for himself.
Gregory Cendana, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), warns that the national debate around creating a commonsense immigration process “has largely ignored a disturbing trend in businesses: the modern-day indentured servitude of temporary workers.”
With reports that comprehensive immigration reform legislation being shaped by the U.S. Senate’s “Gang of Eight” may reduce the number of family visas for aspiring citizens, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and a group of faith leaders today reiterated that family reunification is a core tenet of creating a commonsense immigration process.
This week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) joined what Washington Post's Greg Sargent calls the "slow down" caucus. Meaning Rubio, who is a member of the "Gang of Eight", and a group of Republicans are starting to back away from creating a commonsense immigration process for the nation's 11 million aspiring citizens.
What’s behind Republicans’ demands that surfaced last week that legislation to create a commonsense immigration process for America's 11 million aspiring citizens institutionalizes poverty wages and drags down workers already in the United States? Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson sums it up succinctly.
Who wants to adversely affect “wages and working conditions” of American workers? Employers, that’s who….Businesses (read: “Republicans”) would like an oversupply of labor to ensure a cheap price.
The AFL-CIO and the SEIU are standing up to Republicans and business groups for fair wages in federal immigration reform. While the group of bipartisan senators, called the “Gang of Eight,” working on the immigration bill say that the bill is 90% done, much contention remains around the "guest" worker provisions in the bill. [In fact, the so-called “guest” worker provisions in the bill are not “guest” worker provisions at all. The AFL-CIO has insisted that any new foreign workers be allowed a road map to citizenship and portability between employers so that they are not indentured to a single employer as a condition of remaining in the United States —as is the case under most existing temporary worker programs.]
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 temporary worker programs including the H-2B and other visa programs. The Chamber of Commerce in negotiations with the AFL-CIO already agreed to including this language.
Like many people who come from other countries to work in the United States, Juan José Rosales left his homeland in Mexico to make a better life for himself, trading the prospect of a better financial situation for a temporary amount of time away from. He said a recruiter promised him he would get between $7 and $8 an hour while working in the fair and carnival industry on an H-2B visa. And that's when things went wrong.
Still looking for plans this week? Check out the feature-length documentary by Juan González, "Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America." Recently released in select cities, the film looks at the role of U.S. policy, including immigration and the rise of the Latino population in the United States. "Harvest Empire" tells the untold story of Latino immigrants in America.
More than 800 union members, their families, immigration advocates and community leaders rallied in front of the Arizona state Capitol yesterday to reaffirm their support for commonsense immigration reform that protects immigrants and America's workers. In a press conference before the rally, Arizona AFL-CIO Executive Director Rebekah Friend announced that the organization had adopted a resolution that calls on Congress to pass immigration reform, including a practical and inclusive road map to citizenship that reflects core American values such as fairness, equality and family unity.