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House Immigration Leaders Camouflage Anti-Labor History with Pro-Worker Rhetoric

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Labor and Immigration Leaders Expose their True Agenda: Mass Deportation of Immigrant Workers and Families

Washington – This week, leaders of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) are launching the GOP’s approach to immigration for the 112th Congress with a series of Immigration Subcommittee hearings that use our nation’s jobs and economic crisis to peddle a mass deportation agenda.  Labor and immigration experts highlighted the hypocrisy behind the Judiciary Committee approach, given the fact that these Members of Congress have long track records of voting against pro-worker policies, and oppose comprehensive immigration reform that would bring more employers and workers onto the tax rolls and level the playing field in the workplace.

On the call, America’s Voice Education Fund released a new report that analyzes the Judiciary Committee members’ voting records on worker and immigration issues.  The report finds that 100% of the veteran House Judiciary Republicans earned an “F” grade from America’s leading labor unions, while the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a notorious anti-immigrant organization that has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, gave each of these members an “A” grade.

In fact, the current immigration system, designed by Rep. Smith and his colleagues in the mid-1990s, has led to a dramatic increase in spending on enforcement every year, and yet the number of undocumented immigrants in our country has grown to 11 million.  If the nation followed through on the radical mass deportation plans of Smith, Gallegly, and King, it would cost American taxpayers nearly $300 billion more to implement, and blow a $2.6 trillion hole in our nation’s economy.  Instead, requiring undocumented immigrants to be legal would ensure that they and their employers are paying their full and fair share of taxes and end the stranglehold that abusive employers have on workers.  Comprehensive immigration reform would add $5 billion in new revenue to our nation’s tax coffers and boost the overall economy by $1.5 trillion.

By cloaking themselves in a pro-worker coat but consistently voting against any real, positive labor reform, the veteran Republican leaders are engaging in dangerous policy and bad politics.

“The scorecards don’t lie,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.  “These members want to expel millions of Latino immigrants – which is why they are so highly regarded by extremist organizations such as FAIR – and consistently vote against the interests of American workers – which is why they are given failing grades by the labor movement.  Their hypocrisy is blatant, their strategy of ‘attrition through enforcement’ policies is unrealistic and un-American, and the fact they are becoming the face of the Republican Party in the run up to 2012 may well doom the Republican presidential nominee.”

“The proposals set forth by Smith, Gallegly, and other members of the House Judiciary committee are simply mass deportation masquerading as economic stimulus,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center (NILC).   “If they were truly concerned with workers’ rights and providing Americans with economic security, the House Judiciary Committee would work with members on both sides of the aisle to focus on sound policy proposals, like comprehensive immigration reform and strong labor and employment laws that will create a shared prosperity for all Americans. It’s time to stop shopping piecemeal immigration enforcement-only measures and start working together on real solutions to fix our broken immigration system and faltering economy.”

Arlene Holt-Baker, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO, continued, “With these hearings, House Republicans are attempting to recast their agenda as pro-worker but do not realize they are at risk of losing all credibility if they continue down the path of mass deportation and the status quo.  Without comprehensive immigration reform, the new leaders of the House Judiciary Committee are making this bad situation even worse.  American workers need a policy that will level the playing field, turn workers into taxpayers, and restore the rule of law.”

Eliseo Medina, International Secretary Treasurer, SEIU, concluded, “Rep. Smith, Gallegly, and King are false prophets with no interest in helping working families, they have consistently opposed policies that help workers and the American taxpayers. By failing to deliver a solution, the GOP is backing itself into a corner with Latino and labor voters that it may never be able to get out of. We cannot ‘enforcement-only’ our way out of this problem and doing so, as they suggest, will waste tens of billions of dollars our country doesn’t have on programs that only hurt the small business owners and workers who follow the rules.”

Click here to view a copy of the report.

Click here to listen to a recording the call.