As long as there is a class of workers that can be exploited, threatened, and dismissed at any time, it drives down wages for everyone who works in this country. This is true whether we are talking about people who sneaked across our borders, many times invited by the companies that exploit them, or whether we are talking about some system of “guest workers.” By definition, a guest worker has no say in the terms of employment. If the worker does not have the power to negotiate for safety, for better working conditions, or better pay, without fear of being dismissed and replaced by someone cheaper, quieter, and more disposable, the wages of all of us who earn our livings suffer, any of us can be replaced with someone cheaper and quieter and disposable. The UFCW testifies to the kind immigration policy this country needs:
We must have an immigration system that helps turn that hope into reality for all workers, new immigrant and native-born. We must have comprehensive reform—and that reform should rest on four basic principles:
1) A system that authentically regulates legal entry into this country.
2) One that criminalizes employer recruitment and importation of undocumented labor.
3) It must provide a path to legalization for immigrants who have worked here for years, paying taxes and contributing to their communities.
4) And it must ensure that our immigration processes do not provide employers an incentive to undermine workplace standards that lower wages and benefits for all workers.
(With appreciation to freenewmexican.com for the picture of a proud US citizen.)