June 20, 2007
Washington, DC—The immigration debate should focus on worker issues, according to United Food and Commercial Workers International President, Joseph T. Hansen. Hansen joined Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. Trumpka, and Ed Sullivan, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, at a press conference this afternoon that focused on how the proposed immigration bill could hurt workers in the U.S. and abroad.
The following may be attributed to Joe Hansen:
“At its core, the immigration debate is about workers, because immigration is fueled by jobs. But the Senate Bill relegates all workers—immigrant and native born—to second-class status. The bill’s new and expanded guestworker program opens the door, especially in low-wage sectors, to worker abuse and exploitation. The facts are undeniable. Guestworker programs create an underclass of workers. They create a culture in which people believe that a person’s race, color, or national origin relegates them to a life of low-paying, no-future jobs. And, they provide employers license to deny full workplace rights and protections.”
“American democracy works because it is inclusive. But guestworker programs permanently exclude people who contribute to our economic well being from participating in our democratic process. Approximately 12 million undocumented workers who go to work every day, pay taxes, and contribute to their communities remain on the edge of hope. They need a realistic path to fully participate in our democratic system and to achieve the American Dream.”
“Touchback requirements, unaffordable fines and complicated filing requirements in the current bill will leave too many workers in the shadows—and simply make our already broken system worse. We are a nation that values families. We cannot allow a point-system that would keep families apart or favor one family ahead of others. We must craft real immigration reform that helps turn that hope into reality for all workers, new immigrant and native-born.”