Immigration Advocacy as Labor Advocacy

Source: Kati L. Griffith, Tamara Lee, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Vol. 33, No. 1, 2012

From the abstract:
As immigration reform efforts continue to experience fits and starts in Congress, immigrant and non-immigrant workers have joined together to advocate for immigration reform at the federal level and to protest the surge of exclusionary immigration measures at the state and local levels. These advocacy efforts demonstrate that many workers connect immigration law to workplace conditions. This article develops a comprehensive analytical framework for viewing immigration advocacy as labor advocacy, even though these two statutory regimes have completely separate policymaking processes. It uncovers the historical roots of the interplay between immigration law and labor issues. Similarly, it elaborates the ways that a workplace law, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), has the potential to protect a broad range of workers’ immigration advocacy efforts. To date, scholars have largely focused on how restrictive aspects of immigration law narrow workplace protections, such as minimum wage and safety standards. In contrast, this article shows how the interaction between immigration law and workplace law can broaden workplace protections in some circumstances. By constructing an analytical lens that views immigration law in relationship to workplace law, this article illuminates why it is crucial to simultaneously consider these two statutory regimes. In doing so, it also reveals new opportunities for immigrant and worker advocates to come together around shared interests.

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