October 30, 2008
Washington DC—Immigrants are workers, not criminals.
Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives—H.R. 4437—would criminalize and scapegoat immigrant workers for failed U.S. policies.
The combination of America’s broken immigration system and a trade policy devoid of worker standards has allowed corporations to create an international labor pool of exploitable workers. In fact, the U.S.immigration system has been hijacked and privatized by American employers that lure immigrants to this country both to exploit them and drive down wages and working conditions for all workers–especially in low-wage jobs.
We are an immigrant movement. The UFCW has been fighting to organize, represent, and improve wages and working conditions for immigrant workers for decades. Meatpacking and food processing were among the first industries to utilize immigrant labor. A hundred years ago, Polish, Italian, and Southern European immigrants poured into the nation’s packing plants. Today, immigrants from Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa work the processing lines of the packing industry.
Immigration reform must be comprehensive. A constructive immigration policy would respect and provide a legalization process for the millions of immigrant workers already contributing to our economy and society, while protecting wages and workplace protections for all workers—anything less hurts all workers.