Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Immigration reform could mean compromise on immigrant wages

There is concern that concessions will be made in the revamping of immigration laws that might ultimately affect the wages of individuals the legislation is claimed to protect. This could particularly be true for California farm laborers.

While restrictions on work-related visas may be eased, this might only come at the price of lowering wages for farm laborers. Such wage reductions may come due to compromises by lawmakers with the American Farm Bureau Federation, a lobbying group that represents large agricultural concerns. Not surprisingly, the United Farmworkers Union is opposed to any lowering of wages.

There are a number of laws already in place designed to protect immigrant workers. Unfortunately, many of these laws are often ignored. Too often such workers have been exploited by employers that understand most immigrants have little political clout. It's also not a hopeful sign that the federal government in passing immigration laws is therefore placing caps on wages when it is claimed that the reform was supposed to grant new rights to undocumented immigrants.

Right now, attorneys representing individuals in employment immigration matters may be the only ones looking out for the rights of these workers. These attorneys do more than assist immigrants in applying for the various work-related visas. They will also represent individuals that are facing repressive work conditions and have nowhere else to turn.

Besides wage loss concerns, other compromises made in order to pass immigration reform measures could include stricter border surveillance. Without wage caps and changes in border surveillance, immigrants may find it more difficult to gain access to green cards and retain legal status in our country.

Source: Bloomberg, "Farmworker Elements of U.S. Immigration Deal Reached," by Kathleen Hunter, April 11, 2013

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