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Promoting Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Resolution No. 47

WHEREAS:

            At our 2010 convention and our December 2010 International Executive Board meeting, as well as at previous conventions, AFSCME adopted resolutions supporting comprehensive immigration reform that would provide an earned path to citizenship, reform guest worker programs, and require balanced and humane immigration law enforcement; and

WHEREAS:

            Congress has failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Congress has also failed to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would allow students who grew up in the U.S. to legalize their status and contribute to our country by serving in the military or pursuing higher education; and

WHEREAS:

            In the absence of federal action, some states are taking matters into their own hands, enacting laws that do exactly the opposite of what we support.  In 2010, Arizona passed the first such statute, which  requires police officers to ask for proof of legal status when they have “reasonable suspicion” that someone stopped for other reasons is an illegal alien, and  leaves individual employees and local jurisdictions vulnerable to civil and/or criminal action for not properly enforcing the law; and

WHEREAS:

            Since 2010, five states have passed Arizona copycat laws: Ala, Ga, Ind, S.C. and Utah. In the 2012 legislative session, similar laws have been introduced in 16 states. These laws are written and promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadowy group that is dominated by corporations and produces “model” bills to introduce in state legislatures. In addition to immigration, ALEC is the force behind bills to privatize public services, eliminate defined benefit pension plans, decimate collective bargaining rights and more; and

WHEREAS:

            These laws are a threat to all workers and add the burden of federal immigration enforcement to AFSCME members’ jobs, divert resources away from more critical needs and harm state economies; and

WHEREAS:

            The current immigration system is manipulated by employers at the expense of all workers. Employers use U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, to retaliate against immigrants who attempt to receive the wages they are owed, improve working conditions and organize into unions; and

WHEREAS:

            A 2011 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) limits the worksite enforcement power of ICE when any employees are asserting their rights to form a union or other workplace rights enforced by the Department of Labor, but that MOU has not been reinforced with a clear signal to employers and workers that practices will change; and

WHEREAS:

            Legislation has been introduced in Congress that would require all employers to check the legal status of their employees through E-Verify, an Internet-based work authorization system that could result in 700,000 workers losing their jobs, an expansion of the underground economy, and staggering losses of federal, state and local tax revenues; and

WHEREAS:

            Current guest worker programs fail to protect either U.S. or foreign workers. H-1B visa holders are displacing public employees and employers are not providing proper notification to unions, in violation of federal law, when public agencies contract out work. Abuses in the H-2B program have been widespread, the program has failed to ensure that no qualified U.S. workers are available for these jobs, and employers fail to pay the prevailing or minimum wage or provide the work hours promised, and allow some abuses to rise to the level of involuntary servitude and human trafficking.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME reiterates our support for comprehensive immigration reform, including an earned path to legal status for the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.; the establishment of an independent commission to assess and manage the admission of future legal immigrants into the U.S. based on the real needs of the labor market; rational control of our borders without abusive treatment of immigrants; and the improvement, not expansion, of the H-1B and H-2B guest worker programs that currently allow employers to game the system at the expense of both U.S. and foreign workers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will support the DREAM Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME calls on the administration to implement federal policies to ensure that immigration enforcement does not undermine employment and labor rights, including the 2011 MOU that limits the worksite enforcement power of ICE when employees are asserting their right to form a union or other workplace rights enforced by the Department of Labor; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will oppose legislation or administration action that would make the E-Verify system mandatory for all U.S. employers; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:

           That AFSCME will oppose laws that turn state and local public employees into immigration agents and condemns ALEC, the force behind these and many other harmful laws. 

SUBMITTED BY:    
Kathryn Lybarger, President and Delegate
Leticia Garcia-Prado, Recording Secretary and Delegate
AFSCME Local 3299
California