Executive Council Statement | Better Pay and Benefits · Immigration

Immigration Policy Is Economic Policy

America’s unions have been at the forefront of the fight to create an economy that works for ALL working people. We have a unique expertise on how our immigration system affects the health of our economy and our labor market, and we know that enacting meaningful immigration reform is critical to our long-term efforts to lift labor standards and empower workers. Reasserting the AFL-CIO’s commitment to this work is essential not only to the future of the labor movement, but also to meet our duty to represent and support the millions of immigrant workers who are current, dues-paying members of our unions, and those who risk deportation in order to stand up for a union. Working to ensure a just immigration system is core union business.

Fundamentally, the immigration work and policies of the federation remain the same, despite the outcome of these contentious elections. If anything, our efforts to organize and represent all workers, and to advance immigration policies that help to raise wages and standards, take on greater urgency as immigrants and refugees are being criminalized and terrorized in our workplaces and communities. Our unions bear witness to the culture of fear that has been created in jobsites across all sectors of the economy. This fear makes it less likely for immigrant workers to report violations of wage and hour or health and safety laws, which erodes conditions for us all. The result will be to embolden employers to exploit workers, regardless of status, and retaliate against any form of collective action at the worksite.

Pitting worker against worker is an age-old tactic of the boss to distract us from the real issues, divide us, and keep us poor—and we will not fall for it. Immigrants are not the source of the problems with our economy; they are a critical source of power to fight back against policies that put profits over people. The only way to stop the race to the bottom in wages and standards is for working people of all races, religions and immigration status to stand together and demand that corporate power be put in check. This will be done not by deporting immigrants and scapegoating them for the precarious labor market, but by ensuring all working people have rights on the job and are able to exercise them without fear of retaliation. Immigrants and refugees are a large and vital part of our workforce and our labor movement, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with all working people.