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Eliseo Medina

Eliseo Medina

Posted: December 10, 2009 03:26 PM

Fighting for Workers?

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If there is one thing that the movement for comprehensive immigration reform can learn from the congressional fight for health care reform, it's that Republicans will distort the facts and delay in order to block the change Americans need.

They'll even resort to feigning support for policies and programs that they've historically opposed -- like Medicare -- and then reverse course and file amendments to privatize it.

Given this track record, it should come as no surprise then that members of the anti-immigrant (and anti-worker) Immigration Reform Caucus are now trying to co-opt a "pro-worker agenda" in a ruthless effort to push their extremist mass deportation agenda and block the smart, practical immigration reform American workers need.

Thanks to a new report released today from America's Voice Education Fund, a closer look at the voting records of these members show them to be some of the most consistent opponents of legislation that would benefit American workers.

Despite the hype, the op-eds, and the continued pandering to a small minority of anti-immigrant voters, these leaders have no interest in supporting working families; no interest in raising standards or wages for working people who struggle everyday to provide for their families. In fact, these so-called champions of the American worker have taken every opportunity to make life harder for working families.

As the report shows, SEIU gives 95 percent of these phony reformers an "F" grade for their anti-worker voting records. Of the 87 Members of the House of Representatives who received an "A" grade from the extremist anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in the 110th Congress:

· 94 percent voted against the Employee Free Choice Act
· 93 percent against Equal Pay for Women
· 83 percent against Extending Unemployment Compensation
· 68 percent against Increasing the Minimum Wage
· 82 percent against Providing Parental Leave for Federal Employees

From someone who has fought for workers' rights -- organizing workers from California to Texas to Florida and to New York -- it's shameful to watch these members wear such a false veil of reform -- fanning the flames of hate and fear against immigrants while championing policies that are bad for workers at every level.

As wages plummet, unemployment grows, and the middle class continues to shrink, working families need bold policy solutions that lift wages, create quality jobs and build our economy for the long term. Comprehensive immigration reform is a critical part of that road to recovery. The only way we can truly turn around declining working conditions in America is to get undocumented immigrants out of the underground economy, into the system and on an equal playing field with all workers. Only then will we be able to restore economic fairness and raise wages and living standards for everyone.

After years of failed piecemeal solutions and enforcement-only traps and tragedies, we face an unprecedented opportunity to re-build our immigration system so that it strengthens our economy, supports working families, and restores the rule of law for the long-term. This is the time to get it done right so that all workers -- American and immigrant -- can unite their strength to end the exploitation and worsening labor standards. Done right, immigration reform will lift wages and labor standards for all workers and be a tremendous boon to our economy at a time when we most need it.

So to those false prophets of reform, we say: not this time. We will not allow any more costly, piecemeal measures that threaten to harm all workers and jeopardize the smart, long-term reforms we need. In the comings months, diverse labor unions will join with concerned American workers across the country to make our voices heard. We will not be silenced until immigration reform is passed in Congress and signed by President Obama. Only then will we have won this race for all U.S. workers.