Change to Win and the AFL-CIO have come to agreement on immigration reform. Here is the press release reported on NPR this morning. And here is the high level quote necessary for discussion hear:
The plan adheres to the Administration’s goals by creating a framework that deals with the critical components of reform and does it through interconnected initiatives. The proposal calls for: (1) an independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need; (2) a secure and effective worker authorization mechanism; (3) rational operational control of the border; (4) adjustment of status for the current undocumented population; and (5) improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.
I am shocked by people who feel that the most important thing with immigration reform is to punish the individuals who come to this country to find work. These people are encouraged to come here by employers who hire them. They work hard. They pay sales tax and property tax. The large number who use fake social security numbers pay into but do not collect from social security.
The problem for me is that these people are often exploited by employers who know that the undocumented worker cannot avail himself or herself of the protection of labor laws. Also, the presence of such workers in the workforces drives wages. Finally, there is the problem of illegal border crossings which result in the deaths of hundreds of people every year, damage to property, and damage to the environment. All of these problems are addressed by (1) making employers responsible for who they hire and (2) developing a rational immigration policy that meets the needs of our economy. For too long, we have admitted too few people into this country legally to meet the labor demands of our economy. The burden of this policy, driven largely by anti-Hispanic racism, has been borne almost exclusively by the immigrants who risk their lives crossing the border and are underpaid when they arrive.
If there was ever a question about whether stronger border security or employer accountability would be more effective, the dramatic reduction in illegal border crossings as a result of the economic down turn should end the discussion. If there aren’t jobs–whether because they aren’t there, or because you can only work if you immigrate legally–then there will not be illegal immigration.