Demanding justice for immigrant workers

TUCSON, Ariz. – Thirteen Southern Arizona organizations joined hundreds of others across the country on March 14 to call for dignity and amnesty for all workers.

Human rights advocates joined labor, civil rights and church leaders in a call for President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox to take action to resolve border and immigration issues at their March 21-22 meeting.

Isabel Garcia, speaking for the Derechos Humanos Coalition, said that the Sept. 11 terrorist attack had sidelined productive discussions on immigration reform that must now be resumed. Garcia called for full respect of all labor and civil rights laws for all workers and their families. She called for full and unconditional amnesty for all undocumented workers to recognize their contributions to their communities, and expressed strong opposition to any guest worker program that does not include the participation of organized labor and human rights organizations.

Speaking for the AFL-CIO of Southern Arizona, Jim Watson, pointed out that “History has proven that mistreatment of one group in a workplace ultimately will lead to mistreatment of all workers.” Watson added that “the AFL-CIO proudly stands on the side of immigrant workers. ... In many ways, the AFL-CIO immigration policy signals a return of the union movement to our historical roots. It is increasingly clear that if the U.S. is to have an immigration system that really works, it must be simultaneously orderly, responsible and fair.”

He went on to iterate the AFL-CIO’s call for a new legalization program for immigrants regardless of their country of origin and for full workplace rights including the right to organize and for protection of whistle blowers. He called for replacing the current “employer sanctions” law with a system that targets and criminalizes employers who recruit workers abroad for economic gain.