FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Coalition Sheds Light on Abuses Suffered by Internationally Recruited Workers
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2013 – As the immigration debate heats up in the nation’s capitol, labor rights, migrant rights and anti-trafficking organizations have come together to speak out against immigrant worker abuse and to call on Congress to address their concerns as part of comprehensive reform of the nation’s broken immigration system.
With their publication today of a new report—The American Dream Up for Sale: A Blueprint for Ending International Labor Recruitment Abuse—the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM), Farmworker Justice, Global Workers Justice Alliance, National Guestworker Alliance, Southern Poverty Law Center, and a diverse group of other international and national labor organizations, joined forces to highlight the abuses experienced by internationally recruited workers
“Abuse is rampant under the current international worker programs and visa categories,” said Rachel Micah-Jones, Executive Director of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM). “Congress can no longer pretend that the problems are limited to certain work programs or visa types.”
Internationally recruited workers are employed in a wide range of U.S. industries, from low-wage jobs in agriculture and landscaping, to higher-wage jobs in technology, nursing, and teaching. In today’s report, members of the coalition, formally known as the International Labor Recruitment Working Group, have identified the shortcomings and gaps in the current regulatory and enforcement framework governing international worker programs, while providing important recommendations for reform.
“The very structure of the federal guestworker program lends itself to pervasive worker
abuse and the current federal regulations offer few protections that mainly exist on paper,” said Mary Bauer, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Today’s report makes clear that such abuses are not isolated incidents,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “The AFT and others in this coalition have outlined a set of core principles for the kind of treatment that any worker in our nation should be able to expect. Ideals such as freedom from discrimination or coercion, access to justice and information, and freedom of movement and association are not reserved for citizens alone. They are universal values for which our country stands, and they must apply to any worker on our soil.”
The report is being released on the heels of the unveiling of the White House’s plan for immigration reform. Last week, a bi-partisan group of Senators announced principles for addressing the broken U.S. immigration system, while the House will address the issue at a Judiciary Committee hearing following the group’s announcement of their blue print for change.
“We are not willing to accept an immigration bill that leaves internationally recruited workers at the mercy of unscrupulous and unregulated employers,” said Ana Avendaño, AFL-CIO. “Congress should address the existing programmatic shortcomings in these temporary worker programs and take steps to fix them as they make plans to overhaul our nation’s immigration laws.”
The following organizations produced the report: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM), the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Department for Professional Employees (DPE), Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), Farmworker Justice, Global Workers Justice Alliance, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Employment Law Project (NELP), National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), Safe Horizon, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Solidarity Center, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), UNITE HERE, and Verité. The following organizations endorse the content of the report: Free the Slaves, Polaris Project and Vital Voices Global Partnership.
“The outrageous practices catalogued in this report cry out for justice and we have an obligation to reform the systems that are allowing them to happen. The American Federation of Teachers is proud to be a part of the coalition that produced today’s report, and we stand with all who call for reforms that will break the cycles of exploitation that engulf so many immigrant workers,” added President Weingarten.
More information about the ILRWG can be found at www.fairlaborrecruitment.org
For additional information or comment, please contact:
Ana Avendaño, AFL-CIO
Contact Luis Santoyo
Cathleen Caron, Global Workers Justice Alliance
Adrienne DerVartanian, Farmworker Justice
Tom Lansworth, American Federation of Teachers
Rachel Micah-Jones, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.
Patricia Pittman, Alliance for Ethical International Recruitment Practices