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January 07, 2004

NCLR Blasts Bush Immigration Proposal

The National Council of La Raza today blasted Bush's guest worker proposal, seeing it as a major betrayal of promises made in the past to seek pathways to citizenship for immigrants willing to work:

The Presidentís proposal is limited to creating a potentially huge new guestworker program for immigrant workers with no meaningful access to permanent visas or a path to citizenship for those working, paying taxes, and raising their families in the United States. Immigrants would be asked to sign up for what is likely to be second-class status in the American workforce, which could lead to their removal when their status expires or is terminated. Labor rights for temporary workers have historically been weaker than those afforded to workers in the domestic labor force. Under this proposal, workers would be vulnerable during their temporary status, and even more vulnerable when it expires, which would also have a negative impact on wages and working conditions for their U.S.-born co-workers.
That last line emphasizes the real point of the Bush policy-- not to help immigrants but to undermine the labor rights of workers in the US by creating this guestworker competition for jobs.

The bottom line is that citizenship for undocumented immigrants is THE ONLY way to protect the rights of all American workers. Some buy into the illusion that keeping undocumented workers marginalized somehow deters their entry into the US, but given economic deprivation south of the border, there's just no evidence of that.

What the marginalization does do is deny them access to our labor laws and makes them attractive to unscrupulous employers.

The best way for American workers to defend their rights is to defend the rights of all workers, in the US through legalization, and internationally through strong labor standards in trade agreements. Anything else is a recipe for a race to the bottom for labor rights.

Bush's proposal is just the latest corporate assault using immigration policy to accomplish that rightwing goal.

Posted by Nathan at January 7, 2004 02:14 PM