A recent article in the Bergen RECORD said that the US Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO reached consensus on an agreement on the need for a way to let businesses more easily hire foreign workers when Americans aren’t available to fill jobs. This describes most of our friends in the day laborer community so we are happy to see this.
The article says the groups are calling for a new kind of woker visa program that does not keep all workers in a permanent temporary status and responds as the U.S. economy grows and shrinks.
As CoFiA members talk with the migrant workers in our communities we recognize that one of the major dysfunctional aspects of our broken immigration system is that it permits–even encourages–exploitation of the workers. Because they come here desperate for work, they are forced to take almost anything that is offered to them. There are many employers, large and small, who exploit that need, hiring people only on short-term bases and paying them far below the minimum wage–or not paying them at all. Although all workers are covered by U.S. Labor laws, the deficits in the current immigration system actually encourage these practices, to the benefit of no one, neither migrant nor citizen.
A statement from the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO said, “We have found common ground in several important areas and have committed to continue to work together and with members of Congress to enact legislation that will solve our current problems in a lasting manner. We are now in the middle–not the end–of this process.”
This is a signficant step in moving forward on immigration policy reform–especially important since some politicians (such as Florida’s Jeb Bush) are choosing to appeal to anti-immigrant groups to achieve short-term political goals.