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Good for Workers and Honest Employers

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Legalization Would Level the Playing Field for Workers and Honest Employers

  • Most undocumented immigrants in this country are working outside the system in a shadow economy that artificially depresses wages, allows unscrupulous employers to cheat the system, and exposes workers to abuse and labor violations. One of the most horrific examples of this underground system is the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant: after the plant was raided in 2008, the public discovered that the undocumented workers employed there had been exploited by low wages, health and safety violations, and even physical abuse.
  • Reports have shown that under the Bush Administration, these unscrupulous employers have not been penalized for unfairly exploiting workers. A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified cases in which the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor inadequately investigated complaints about employers who failed to pay minimum wage and overtime. Another GAO report found a marked decrease in Wage and Hour Division enforcement actions during the Bush administration.
  • Under a legalization program, undocumented workers would be made legal and subject to all wage and labor laws that govern the workplace. This would result in improved wages and labor standards for all workers. 

Legalization Would Lift the Wages of All Workers

  • According to a report released in December 2009 by the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center, comprehensive immigration reform that includes a legalization program would increase the real wages of less-skilled legalized workers by $4,405 per year. Higher-skilled workers would see a yearly wage increase of $6,185 per year.
    • These increased wages would result in increased consumer spending which would support 750,000 to 900,000 jobs in the U.S.
    • This report found that the alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, mass deportation, would result in widespread job loss.
  • An analysis done by the Drum Major Institute of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act, found that the bill’s legalization program would allow undocumented workers to earn legal status, creating a workplace that enables effective enforcement of U.S. wage and hour laws, workplace safety standards and other labor regulations. This would ultimately benefit all working people who rely on these protections.