Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Labor Gets Behind Immigration Reform

The New York Times reported today that the US' two major labor federations--AFL-CIO and Change to Win--have come together despite all other disagreements on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

As Obama promises to push for immigration reform in the midst of the recession, labor's support will provide him a boost.

AFL-CIO and Change to Win have agreed to support a path to legal status, believing it is in the best interest of all workers. Legalization brings workers out of the shadows and prevents employers from undercutting wages by paying undocumented labor under the table.

The federations also propose creating a depoliticized, independent commission which will assess the needs of the labor community from year to year. This commission then would set the number of visas available to foreign workers in each secter of the economy. Such a system, they say, will prevent too many workers from being permitted at a time when the country is at high unemployment--like right now--but will also ensure that the needs of the economy are met.

While a lot of the details of a comprehensive immigration reform bill still need to be worked out, this show of support is promising for the coming year's debate.

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