Sunday, November 12, 2006

Immigration "Thinking About" Going After Unions For Representing Undocumented Workers

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Bureau is apparently at it again. Some of you may remember ICE as the agency that staged a sting on undocumented immigrant workers by impersonating OSHA trainers. The ICE was later forced to back down when unions, immigrant rights groups and even OSHA objected.

But now they seem to be up to no good again according to Jennifer Chacón at Immigration Prof Blog who went to a presentation by ICE director Julie L. Myers last week.
Ms. Myers briefly noted that, as unions increasingly provide representation for undocumented workers, "we need to look at" whether these activities cross the line into criminal conduct, such as harboring. When later asked to clarify those remarks, Ms. Myers appeared to back off the statement, emphazing that it is just something that "we need to think about."
Chacón correctly doesn't think much of this idea, noting that undocumented immigrants already have enough problems trying to defend their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which
actually creates incentives for abusive employers to hire the undocumented (rather than documented workers and citizens), since the cost of violating the NLRA is be cheaper for employers of undocumented workers. It also creates incentives for undocumented workers to accept low wages and poor working conditions without organizing -- after all, organizing for change can get them fired, and they won't be able to avail themselves of sufficient remedies to compensate them for their troubles.
This new "idea" by Myers threatens to make the situation even worse:
Now Julie Myers' remarks suggest that ICE may be thinking about a strategy that would further strengthen the hand of the most unscrupulous employers of undocumented workers at the expense of unions. But union-busting is not a good way to prevent undocumented migration. It is a good way to make it even easier than it already is for corner-cutting employers who hire undocumented workers to circumvent wage and labor laws at the expense of all employees -- citizens and noncitizens alike.
Where do they find these people?