NGA Statement on Immigration Reform

In response to the Senate and White House frameworks for immigration reform, National Guestworker Alliance Executive Director Saket Soni released the following statement on January 29, 2013:

The White House and Senate have recognized what 11 million undocumented immigrants know: we need to open a path to citizenship now, and it needs to be first-class citizenship.

Every day, immigrant workers and their families are rebuilding our country’s economy and participating in our democracy. We congratulate President Obama for vowing to move immigration reform without delay.

The path to citizenship should start with an immediate suspension of deportations. America should not be deporting today the citizens of tomorrow. Immigration enforcement has eroded the basic civil and labor rights we hold dear, because employers use enforcement as a weapon against workers and community members who expose civil and labor rights violations.

That has to end. True “smart enforcement” means enforcing our nation’s civil and labor rights laws when employers violate them. We are glad the President’s proposal strongly affirms the principles of the POWER Act, which would protect workers against retaliation for exercising their labor rights. Immigration reform legislation must include these protections.

It’s clear that new guestworker programs will be used to regulate the future flow of immigrants to the United States. But it’s also clear that guestworkers face severe obstacles to dignity and fairness at work. Without strong labor protections, these programs trap immigrant workers into captive labor, and create a race to the bottom for U.S. and immigrant workers.

Future guestworker programs must be built on strong labor protections and the right to organize. It’s a victory that the Senate and the White House recognize the need for these protections. We look forward to contributing to ensure that all workers benefit from them.

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