Obama Administration Must Take Action to Correct Past Abuses, Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Washington, DC – New revelations in the New York Times today show how U.S. immigration authorities under President Bush colluded with a Mississippi marine oil-rig company to punish workers exercising their labor rights. The article details shocking correspondence between the employer, Signal International, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which advised the company how to privately deport workers who were complaining about mistreatment on the job.
According to the article, ICE’s advice to the company was this: “Don’t give them any advance notice. Take them all out of the line on the way to work; get their personal belongings; get them in a van, and get their tickets, and get them to the airport, and send them back to India.” A detailed memorandum outlining the government’s role in this case will be released tomorrow at the National Press Club by organizations who are assisting the affected workers (details follow this statement).
“The federal government’s role in punishing workers who spoke up about mistreatment on the job is simply shocking,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “The fact that U.S. immigration officers advised this company how to deport workers who complained about labor abuses, rather than investigating the allegations, is deeply troubling and must be corrected.”
The Signal case is a clear and compelling example of how the previous Administration prioritized the enforcement of civil immigration laws over the enforcement of labor rights, to the detriment of all workers, as a recent report from American Rights at Work described and as America’s Voice has highlighted.
“Clearly, our government put the needs of dishonest businesses ahead of the rights of workers, and this must be corrected,” Sharry continued. “The Obama Administration must hold the agents and employers who abused the system accountable, and ensure that the enforcement of immigration laws no longer trumps the protection of workers’ rights. We also need comprehensive immigration reform, including better enforcement of labor laws and stronger worker protections in employment-based visa programs, to level the playing field for all workers and law-abiding employers.”
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