6/13 – 6/19 – Let immigrants work!

20 Jun

Republicans Bash Immigrant Workers and Call It a Jobs Bill, Color Lines Magazine, 6-16-11

Hard work is an American tradition.  Hard working immigrants are a corner stone of American history.  Yet, nowadays, when it comes to working hard, for immigrants it’s “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”  So often criticized for being freeloaders, now, under the guise of national security and economic stimulus, federal legislation threatens to bar immigrant workers from the opportunity to gain dignity and economic security for themselves and their families and to demonstrate their contribution to the country. 

Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Elton Gallegly (R-CA) chairman of the immigration subcommittee, held hearings this week on a new bill (H.R. 2164) which would make it mandatory for all employers to use E-Verify, a national electronic database for employers.

HR 2164 threatens the economic independence, dignity and safety of immigrant and nonimmigrant workers alike.  Undocumented workers, so critical to our nation’s economy, would likely be pushed into black market labor where they would be more vulnerable to wage theft and unsafe working conditions –conditions that could become the norm for all low-wage workers, the vast majority of who are not undocumented.  In addition, it’s estimated that 800,000 documented and citizen workers could erroneously lose their jobs.  Overall, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would result in $17.3 billion in lost tax revenues due to wages going under the table and would cost $23 billion to implement.

Instead of proposing laws that prevent immigrants from being economically self-sufficient and safe in their workplaces, Congress should enact a path to citizenship and pass legislation that protects the labor rights of all workers.

In other news:

Foreign Teachers Used to Fill Shortages in the US Now Face Victimization, The World (radio), 6-15-11
Policies that prioritize immigration laws over economic realities can have disastrous results for immigrants and their communities.  In South Carolina, for years immigrants from the Philippines have been recruited to fill needed teaching positions.  However, the slow-moving immigration system that does not provide stable opportunities for legal residents has resulted in many teachers being deported.

Transfers Delay Release of Detainees, Report Finds, New York Times, 6-14-11
A new report by Humans Rights Watch shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement  continues the practice of transferring detained immigrants to detention centers around the country, separating them from family and attorneys.  Among Immigrants detained 1998 through 2010, 40 percent were transferred at least once and 46 percent of those were transferred at least twice.  Alison Parker, director of the United States program of Human Rights Watch, states: “One transfer is enough to wreak havoc with a detainee’s case in immigration court.”

Immigration Replaces Economy as Top Latino Issue, Wall Street Journal, 6-13-11|
Results from a poll of registered Latino voters, both immigrant and US born showed that, when asked to name the most important issue facing Latinos, 51% said immigration, 35% said the economy and jobs and 18% said education.  The results reflect that Latino voters are closely affected by immigration issues.  For example, the 53% of respondents said they knew someone who was undocumented and 25% said they knew someone who had been detained or deported by immigration authorities.

Church leaders criticize Alabama’s immigration law, Montgomery Advertiser, 6-17-11
In a statement released this week, Alabama’s Episcopal Bishop, the Right Rev. Henry N. Parsley declared: “The recently adopted bill HB 56 will make it impossible to love and be hospitable to our neighbors as we ought to be.”  The state’s Episcopal, Catholic and Methodists churches have released statement’s opposing the new law, emphasizing that “this does not typify Alabama.”  Also, this week the Southern Baptist Convention, while not condemning the AL or GA laws, passed a resolution supporting comprehensive immigration reform.

Texas Senate passes bill on cities aiding illegal immigrants, The Texas Tribune, 6-15-11
On Tuesday, the Texas Senate passed a bill that would prohibit local jurisdictions from having sanctuary city or similar policies, essentially requiring that law enforcement inquire about the legal status of any individuals that are stopped, regardless of whether or not they are detained or the reason for being stopped.  Amendments to exclude witnesses or victims of crime, children 17 years or younger, or victims of crimes, including sex or trafficking crimes, all failed.


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