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Will an immigration deal protect immigrants-as-workers?
Unions really want to see immigration reform, but they also want to make sure it both protects immigrants in their work lives and prevents employers from using guest workers to undermine labor standards for all workers. So while we can expect unions to welcome movement toward immigration reform in the Senate, there are also some details they'll be waiting to hear. That's reflected in statements that have come out—and in the relative dearth of union statements on immigration reform in my inbox today.
SEIU backs bipartisan immigration framework. "We know that there is still a long way to go and that details will be worked out." — @mmurraypolitics via TweetDeck
Calling the Senate framework "an important and long overdue first step," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also pointed to the need for more details, saying in a statement that "Much remains to be seen on the details of that path, and each detail can have significant consequences for millions of aspiring citizens." He continued:
For instance, we are concerned that making the citizenship path consistent on proof of employment at the time enforcement measures are deemed completed could be problematic. Depending on implementation, the principles could potentially exclude millions of workers—those who care for our children and our elderly, mow our lawns and repair our homes, drive taxis—who cannot prove employment because they have been forced to work off the clock or have no employer by virtue of being independent contractors. It would also exclude immigrants who are employers themselves. We hope that this sort of acknowledgement of economic reality informs the actual bill drafting process.
Some Republicans agreeing to some framework for an immigration deal is good news, but it's definitely not a signal to stop fighting for the best deal possible. You know Republicans won't stop.