Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
GRAND RAPIDS Dec 1, 2014—When President Barack Obama issued an executive order on immigration last month, he provided relief and work authorization to an estimated four million people nationwide—with an estimated 45,000 right here in Michigan benefiting from the action.
As a result of the executive order, not only will immigrant families be kept together, but it will allow millions of people to live and work without fear, and afford them the status to assert their rights on the job. Those workers previously struggled to support their families without the protection of law. And that doesn’t just put immigrants at risk— it puts all people who work for a living at risk by driving down the standards we all need to survive.
Our broken immigration system has been an invitation for employer abuse, and U.S.-born workers, as well as immigrant workers, are paying the price in the form of reduced wages, slashed benefits and increased demands on the job.
The Kent-Ionia Labor Council— which represents 33 labor unions in West Michigan— applauds the Obama Administration’s willingness to address this crisis, for the good of all workers.
“This is an important first step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law,” said Kent-Ionia Labor Council President Sean Egan. “Although this fix is temporary, it means tens of thousands of immigrants in Michigan, and their families, can live and work without fear of being deported.”
In addition, this executive action will help grow the U.S. economy, and with so many undocumented immigrants in Michigan now able to receive work authorization and relief from deportation, Michigan should also see an economic boost.
“When workers are treated fairly on the job, regardless of status, we all benefit,” said Egan. “Employers shouldn’t be allowed to use fear of deportation to suppress wages or exploit workers.”
Nationally and in west Michigan, organized labor continues to stand up for permanent immigration reform.
“Going forward, we renew our call for comprehensive reform that provides a path to citizenship and real protection for workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Working together, we know that we will ultimately achieve a more just immigration system that promotes shared prosperity and respects the dignity of all workers.”