Wage Law Enforcement as Immigration Policy


Given the justifiable concern by voters surrounding illegal sweatshops, a number of state leaders are looking beyond punishing immigrant workers, to concentrating on raising wages for all workers, and increasing penalties for wage law violators across the board.

While many advocates of "fighting illegal immigration" claim to be doing so in the name of helping low-income workers, it is remarkable that almost none of them are addressing the pervasive theft of low-income worker wages by employers violating wage laws.  Instead of promoting a narrow tactic like sanctions against employers of undocumented workers, which only drives the problem of low-wage employment underground, cracking down on sweatshops and wage violators would be one of the most effective deterrents to employers recruiting undocumented immigrants.  If all employers have to pay a decent wage, the attraction of hiring undocumented immigrants would diminish tremendously. Since going after employers who violate wage laws will politically unite all workers, immigrant and native alike, cracking down on those abusive employers will actually strengthen the progressive political base.

Where anti-immigrant politicians proposed workplace sanctions against immigrants in 2008, a number of progressive leaders in states  proposed bills or amendments that highlighted the broader illegality of broken wage and safety laws that undermine workplace standards for all Americans.


Core wage enforcement legislation should include:


New PSN Report: The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed

Today, the Progressive States Network is releasing a new report: The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed: Positive Integration Policies by States Still Far Outweigh Punitive Policies Aimed at New Immigrants.   The Executive Summary is available online, as well as the full report in PDF and HTML format.

State Immigration Project: Policy Options for 2009

Download a copy of the reports in PDF format here.  View the HTML version of the report here.

States Criminalizing Immigrant Workers through State "Identity Theft" Legislation

Right-wing interests have been mounting a political assault on university professors they do not like, led by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), which is promoting so-called "Intellectual Diversity" (ID) Legislation in various states across the country. The concept was pioneered by right-wing activist David Horowitz (see this profile site for more on Horowitz).