WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is entering the nation's charged debate over immigration, agreeing to hear a challenge from business and civil liberties groups to an Arizona law that cracks down on employers who hire undocumented workers.
The justices on Monday accepted an appeal from the Chamber of Commerce, American Civil Liberties Union and others to a lower court ruling that upheld Arizona's law.
Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire signed a bill
to combat wage theft this week, adding Washington to a growing number
of states and counties, including Miami-Dade
County, cracking down on employers who underpay workers (many of
them undocumented immigrants) and violate minimum wage and overtime
Progressive States Network will be working with state leaders around the
country to promote policies to improve enforcement of minimum wage, overtime and
related wage laws in the states. This Dispatch will highlight the
chronic wage violations in the workplace, model wage law enforcement language
for states to promote, messaging to support those campaigns, and specific ways
such an approach has the added benefit of undercutting anti-immigrant attacks in
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson recently signed a wage enforcement bill (H 489)
to allow underpaid workers to collect their back wages plus twice that
amount in damages. The bill was backed by community groups and labor
unions as well as the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
New Mexico now becomes the eighth state that allows workers to collect
treble damages against employers violating the minimum wage — a key
deterrent to employers to ensure compliance with the minimum wage.
President Obama's pick for secretary of labor, Rep. Hilda Solis, could
help shape a new approach to immigration control that emphasizes the
robust enforcement of labor laws.
Where the Bush administration stepped up workplace immigration
enforcement, sweeping up migrant workers and not always going after the
employers who illegally hire them, the Obama administration is expected
to take a different tack.
Immigrant advocates hope that strengthening compliance with
workplace health and safety laws and wage and hour standards - which
Solis promised in her hearing before the labor committee in January -
will protect workers in general and could reduce the likelihood that
some employers will seek to profit by hiring undocumented workers.
Instead of allowing the right-wing to scapegoat undocumented immigrant
workers, Progressive States Network will be working with progressive
leaders across the country to introduce wage enforcement laws that
emphasize that native and immigrant workers both suffer under illegal
working conditions. See State Immigration Project: Policy Options for 2009 for the full range of immigration policies Progressive States Network is supporting in upcoming legislative sessions.