By Voting Against American Workers, Members Show True Intentions
Champions of the anti-immigrant agenda in Congress have recently characterized their opposition to comprehensive immigration reform as concern for American workers and say they are working to ensure that these workers, not undocumented immigrants, get good jobs and high wages. However, a report released today by America’s Voice Education Fund found that the voting records of these lawmakers reveal them to be some of the most consistent opponents of legislation that would benefit American workers in Congress.
The report and its implications for the upcoming congressional debate on immigration reform were the subject of a telephonic press conference today featuring labor and immigration experts Esther Lopez, Director of Civil Rights and Community Action for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW); Eliseo Medina, International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); and Frank Sharry, Executive Director of the America’s Voice Education Fund.
According to the report, The Anti-Worker Truth About the Anti-Immigrant Lobby, 87 members of the House of Representatives and one member of the Senate received an “A” grade in the 110th Congress from the hard-line anti-immigrant organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But when it comes to fighting for workers, these same lawmakers are among the worst performers according to a range of congressional scorecards. Of those who received an “A” grade from FAIR in the 110th Congress, 92% voted against providing equal pay to women, 68% voted against increasing the minimum wage and 80% voted against extending unemployment benefits. Furthermore between 93% and 95% of these House lawmakers earned a “F” grade in scorecards from the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Clearly, these members of Congress are more committed to advancing the agenda of the extreme anti-immigrant lobby than they are to policies that would benefit American workers.
Eliseo Medina of SEIU had this to say: “From someone who has fought for workers’ rights—organizing workers from California to Texas to Florida and to New York — it’s shameful to watch these members demonize immigrants while championing policies that are bad for workers at every level. It’s like watching a fox claim to be president of the chicken protection league. The only way we can truly turn around declining working conditions in America is to get undocumented immigrants out of the underground economy, into the system and on an equal playing field with all workers. Only then will we be able to restore economic fairness and raise wages and living standards for everyone.”
Esther Lopez of UFCW added, “This report further exposes the hypocrisy of these anti-immigrant members of Congress. If my kids came home with a report card that had this many ‘Fs,’ I’d send them to their room and tell them to get back to their studies. The mass deportation agenda is not a real solution to the immigration problem or the jobs problem. What workers really want is for our elected officials to engage in a rational discussion about solutions to our broken immigration system.”
Instead of the mass-deportation policy prescription advocated by some lawmakers, today’s speakers noted that an essential part of protecting American workers and securing a level economic playing field for all is for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The two largest labor federations in America, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win (CTW), have released a common framework for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to legal status for undocumented workers and a commission to regulate the entry of workers in the future.
“Our country simply can’t build for long-term economic growth atop the crumbling foundation of a broken immigration system,” said Frank Sharry. “We need an economy that gives Americans the chance to move up the economic ladder, not down it, and policy solutions that create new jobs, not waste billions of tax dollars trying to round up 12 million immigrant workers and their families.”
To read the complete report, click here: The Anti-Worker Truth About the Anti-Immigrant Movement. For a transcript of the Telephonic Press Conference, click here.