Immigration Reform and Workers’ Rights

"[I]n all the talk of providing a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers while tightening border security, one important issue has, so far, received only passing mention: stronger protections for immigrant workers against exploitation and abuse.  Such protections, essential to any reform plan, would help rid the system of bottom-feeding employers who hire and underpay and otherwise exploit cheap immigrant labor, dragging down wages and workplace standards for everyone.  Such abuses are easily visited on immigrant workers by unscrupulous employers who use the threat of deportation to force their victims into silence.  This imbalance of power harms workers who toil in the shadows.  But the system that recruits legal temporary workers is also a mess.  In the event that an immigration overhaul greatly expands the number of guest workers — even hard-line Republicans have been talking about adding temporary visas in agriculture and in high-tech industries — it is crucial to avoid making the mess even bigger." - New York Times Editorial, Feb. 21, 2013.