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SEIU Files NAFTA Complaint Against Alabama’s Anti-Immigrant HB 56

by Mahwish Khan on 05/01/2012 at 10:40am

One of our most stalwart allies in the fight for immigration reform is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Yesterday, SEIU stepped up — again — in the battle against Alabama’s egregious anti-immigrant law, HB 56, by filing a complaint using provisions of NAFTA. From SEIU:

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and a Mexican labor lawyers group today filed a path breaking complaint with Mexico’s Department of Labor challenging Alabama’s anti-immigrant law HB 56 under the supplemental labor agreement of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), the United States committed to uphold international labor principles and to effectively enforce labor laws related to those principles. The NAFTA labor agreement is the only trade agreement with a clause that specifically protects the rights of migrant workers, requiring that they be given the same legal protection as U.S. nationals in respect of working conditions.

Calling Alabama’s anti-immigrant law “discriminatory” and “abusive” toward all workers – not just immigrants – the complaint filed by the SEIU and the Mexican National Association of Democratic Lawyers (ANAD) says that HB 56 violates international human rights and labor rights standards and undermines the ability of federal authorities to effectively enforce labor and employment laws.

“We are going to fight HB 56 with everything we can bring to bear under U.S. law,” said Eliseo Medina, SEIU’s International Secretary-Treasurer. “But we’re not going to stop at our borders – we are bringing the fight to a global stage and putting HB 56 under international scrutiny.”

Alabama’s law is blatantly designed to create a hostile environment for immigrants. That’s the exact point of self-deportation laws crafted by Kris Kobach and championed by Mitt Romney.

More from Elise Foley at Huffington Post:

Monday’s filing over HB 56 and NAFTA was preceded by a separate complaint filed by the SEIU on April 2 to the United Nations’ Labour Organization Committee, which deals with workers’ rights.

The newer complaint will lead to an investigation by the Mexican labor department, according to a press release from the SEIU on Monday. One charge it will look into is whether the law, as the SEIU claims, would lead to racial discrimination, wage violations and workplace safety hazards.

“As officials begin investigating, we are confident they will see HB 56 for what it is: an immoral racial profiling law that had no grounds to begin with but which now threatens workers and economic stability,” SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina said in a statement.

That’s exactly what HB 56 is. This complaint is another powerful weapon in the arsenal against HB 56 — and will certainly focus more attention on that state and its very tainted history.

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