We understand that Speaker Ryan has promised a vote on the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) introduced by Representative Goodlatte. On behalf of the AFL-CIO, I urge you to oppose this misguided bill, as it is little more than a transparent attempt to make immigrant workers scapegoats for our nation’s economic problems and deprive working people of their rights. We hope you will reject efforts to include any portion of this bill in the important negotiations to find a permanent solution for deserving workers with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Not only does this bill offend core labor values of equal treatment and dignity for all work, it also directly undermines efforts to raise wages in our country. The larger strategy of H.R. 4760 promoters is clear: to decrease the number of immigrants who will come to our country with full rights as citizens and criminalize and deport millions of people who have been working here for decades, only to replace them with a massive temporary workforce under the complete control of employers.
At a time when we already face a tightening labor market, drastically reducing channels for permanent immigration will increase the pressure to expand abuse-riddled guestworker programs, as this bill does for the agriculture sector. Congress should strengthen protections for working people by enacting reforms that bring integrity and justice to the H-2 visa programs, rather than expanding an exploitative model. The approach pursued in H.R. 4760 betrays our long history as a nation of immigrants and instead creates a revolving door for hiring exploitable and disposable workers with no right even to change jobs, let alone to settle here and achieve the American dream.
Further, the enforcement provisions in this bill would undermine public safety, cut off funding for local policing, swell the coffers of for-profit detention facilities, and make it easier for abusive employers to retaliate against hard-working people. Absent a broad and inclusive pathway to citizenship, a national E-Verify mandate will push millions of working people deeper into the shadow economy, further undermining our freedom to join together and advocate for better wages for all.
The labor movement has long fought to correct the imbalance of power within our immigration system in order to build an economy that works for working people. The right way to use immigration policy to boost wages is by expanding rights and protections – by passing a clean DREAM Act and creating a pathway to citizenship for working people with TPS – not by slashing legal entry, increasing captive work, or escalating enforcement tactics that cause fear in our workplaces and communities.
The AFL-CIO remains committed to the long-term struggle to create an immigration system that will help ensure safer workplaces, build a stronger economic future for our nation, and support the basic rights and dignity of all working people. We appreciate your consideration of our views.
William Samuel, Director