Where Do Unions Stand on Immigration Reform?

2. Effective workplace enforcement

The blueprint calls for a mandatory system to verify whether employees are eligible to work in the U.S. A federal program, E-Verify, does that now, but it has been criticized for inaccuracy and inefficiency. Some proponents of reform have suggested another option: revamping Social Security cards to make them harder to counterfeit. The outline says it's also important that the worker verification system "contains sufficient due process and privacy protections and prevents discrimination."

3. "Rational" control of the border

The unions stress that they want a "rational" approach to border security. Their main point is that an enforcement-only approach to immigration won't work, and that any enforcement strategy needs to incorporate other parts of reform, like improved streams of legal workers. Any immigration enforcement on the border, the blueprint says, "should respect the dignity and rights of our visitors, as well as residents in border communities."

4. A path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented

The blueprint says that until undocumented workers can gain legal status, they'll continue to drive down wages for legal workers. Whether that legal status means citizenship or something else isn't stated, but the unions want a reasonable and accessible process that encourages people to apply.

5. No new guest worker programs.

One of the principles that sets the unions apart from pro-reform business groups is their stance on guest workers. The unions oppose new guest worker programs, and instead think future flows of immigration should be regulated by the independent commission outlined above. The blueprint cites the "limited civil and employment rights" of guest workers. While not mentioned in the outline, the subtext is that guest workers -- perhaps working without healthcare or other benefits -- could drive down salaries for native-born workers. Even existing guest worker programs should be reformed, according to the SEIU's Medina. Since guest workers are tied to a single business through their visas, "employers use that to threaten and control workers," he said.

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