Teamsters Support Call for Immigration Reform Legislation

April 22, 2006: Supporters of immigration reform have marched by the hundreds of thousands this month, holding rallies in cities across the U.S.

The Teamsters Union is putting its weight behind the growing movement for legislation to make it possible for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status and become U.S. citizens.

More than twelve million undocumented immigrants are part of the U.S. workforce. It’s an open secret that employers take advantage of undocumented workers’ fears to drive down wages and break union organizing drives.

That’s why the Teamsters Union, and organized labor in general, supports “earned legalization” legislation that would enable undocumented workers to become U.S. citizens.

Under proposed legislation, undocumented immigrants could receive citizenship only if they achieved a number of goals, including paying a fine, passing a background check, paying any back taxes owed from pay earned in the U.S., and then waiting to apply for citizenship behind any legal immigrants currently applying.

The IBT opposes another aspect of proposed immigration legislation—the creation of a “guest worker” program that would allow immigrants to legally enter the country to work on a temporary basis.

In a statement on the issue, Hoffa said that “Time and again, it has been proven that guest worker programs lead to the exploitation of workers. These workers are captive to their employer and often exploited. Guest workers are often times paid less than their U.S. counterparts, which brings wages down for everyone.”

The goal of union-backed immigration reform is to stop employers from exploiting immigrant workers and to make it easier for all workers to fight for better wages and benefits and for nonunion workers to organize.

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