Immigrants helped build this country and have played a central role in our union since its inception. Employers and the politicians that represent them seek to exploit divisions between immigrant and native-born workers, driving down wages and stripping away hard-won worker’s rights.
The Supreme Court’s Hoffman Plastic Compounds ruling in March 2002 decreed that immigrant workers fired for organizing a union are not entitled to back pay or reinstatement. The court effectively decided that immigrant workers “have no rights that bosses need respect.” Employers now routinely use the Hoffman ruling to fire union activists.
Many UE locals face attempts by employers to use Social Security Administration “no-match” letters, I-9 audits and the E-Verify program to terrorize immigrant workers and attack the union. These programs are based on the Social Security Administration database, which by the agency’s own admission contains over 17 million errors.
U.S. immigration enforcement is discriminatory and racist. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents use heavy-handed raids to terrorize communities and workplaces. A study by the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law showed that in 86 percent of ICE cases in Long Island agents illegally entered people’s homes, used excessive force, threatened unarmed people with weapons and arrested many legal residents and U.S. citizens. President Trump’s plan to hire thousands of new ICE agents and increase their enforcement ability will only increase these abuses and lead to greater terror in our nation’s immigrant communities.
Families are ripped apart in the process. Children who are U.S. citizens remain in the country while parents are jailed and then deported. Since the inception of the 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws, immigrant communities have been driven further into the shadows. Our immigration detention system locks up hundreds of thousands of immigrants unnecessarily every year, exposing detainees to brutal and inhumane conditions of confinement at massive costs to American taxpayers.
We do not believe that comprehensive immigration reform will happen under the Trump administration. Trump ran on a platform of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hatred, and has begun to implement some of his promises. Plans are underway to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a waste of billions of dollars that will have no impact on undocumented immigration. His initial attempted ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries is reprehensible and would have affected hundreds of thousands of American residents. Trump’s actions and rhetoric have emboldened the most racist elements on the American right, and have increased fears of violence against immigrants. All of this needs to be resisted by the members of our union.
Denying immigrant workers decent wages and conditions undermines the wages and conditions of all. All workers, regardless of immigration status, must have the right to form unions, to file complaints against unfair treatment without fear of reprisal, to receive unemployment, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, and to have access for themselves and their families to affordable housing, healthcare, education, and transportation. UE must work with other unions, faith and community groups to fight collectively for legalization and against anti-immigrant laws and sentiment.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 75th UE CONVENTION:
- Demands the federal government impose an immediate moratorium on all ICE raids, arrests, deportations, harassment, seizures, I-9 audits, Secure Communities, the 287(g) and E-Verify programs, and other abuses of undocumented workers;
- Calls for an end to all political attacks against the sanctuary city movement, and encourages all locals to actively support all efforts in their community to defend immigrants from abuse and harassment;
- Demands the federal government end their VOICE program, which serves the sole purpose of stirring up anti-immigrant racism, repeal the anti-immigrant so-called “Kate’s Law,” and end all travel bans;
- Calls for an immediate end to all construction of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico;
- Demands that Congress enact immigration reform legislation that:
- Includes a legalization program, allowing all immigrants currently living in the U.S. to remain here permanently and without penalty;
- Protects worker rights for both current and future immigrants, including overturning the Hoffman Plastics decision;
- Prioritizes family unification;
- Protects our civil liberties;
- Liberalizes political asylum procedures;
- Rejects guest-worker programs;
- Repeals the REAL ID Act (a federal law expanding requirements for state driver’s licenses and mandating stricter standards for asylum applicants);
- Ensures proper access to decent education for all young people in our country;
- Encourages locals to work with and financially support local immigrant rights coalitions which assist undocumented workers and fight to fix our broken immigration system;
- Calls on locals with immigrant members to educate employers on the rights of immigrant workers and the employer’s right to resist ICE harassment and intimidation and the perils of ICE’s voluntary enforcement initiatives;
- Denounces anti-immigrant laws, initiatives, and vigilante hate groups;
- Urges locals to educate themselves about federal laws related to immigrants and refugees, and to assist their immigrant members in attaining documented status and citizenship if they so desire;
- Demands that state motor vehicle agencies change policies and programs that make it impossible for immigrants to legally own and operate vehicles;
- Urges locals to negotiate contract language that:
- Protects jobs and contract rights regardless of immigration status;
- Allows undocumented workers to update immigration status without loss of rights;
- Prevents the employer from taking adverse action in the event of the receipt of a Social Security “no-match” letter;
- Prevents the employer from participating in voluntary ICE enforcement programs;
- Obligates the employer to refuse entry to ICE agents who do not possess a valid warrant and to notify the union if contacted by ICE;
- Requires the employer to supply an independent translator and allow union representation when communicating on important matters with workers not fluent in English;
- Makes available copies of the contract in each language spoken by employees;
- Calls upon the union at all levels to continue to develop an analysis of the real causes of worker migration to the U.S. and elsewhere, and to provide education and materials for members and the community.