Migration that Works, a coalition of labor, academics, migrant rights and anti-human trafficking organizations formed in 2011, denounces the Administration’s latest immigration order as another tactic to divert attention from its dismal response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has left more than 120,000 people in the U.S. dead. Instead of focusing on taking concrete actions to protect all workers, this Administration relies, once again, upon furthering a nativist agenda in an effort to divide workers.
We are seeing a rising number of workers dying and being infected with coronavirus on the job. Thousands of workers are falling ill to the coronavirus in unsafe and dangerous work sites throughout the country. These workers are not provided with personal protective equipment; paid sick leave; and, they face retaliatory action if they raise a complaint about their work conditions. Yet, there is no action from the agency that is supposed to be workers’ health and safety watchdog – OSHA.
Missing in this order is anything that reforms the problematic guestworker programs. International workers experience abusive recruitment processes in which they are often charged exorbitant amounts of money. This Order does not indicate what steps the Administration will take to address workers that have already incurred significant expenses in pursuing guestworker visas. Applicants often take out loans or put property up for collateral in order to pay several thousand dollars in fees in order to secure a visa. This is a long process that with this announcement leaves them in the dark. Unknown is whether the recruiters and sponsor agencies involved will reimburse these workers for unused fees.
Instead of nativist and xenophobic bans, we need protections for all workers now.