February 5, 2013
AFT President Says Immigration Reform Must Address Recruiting Abuses
Weingarten: "The outrageous practices cataloged in this report cry out for justice and we have an obligation to reform the systems that are allowing them to happen."
The American Federation of Teachers joined with other members of the International Labor Recruitment Working Group coalition today to release a report detailing abusive and exploitative practices by those who recruit immigrant workers for jobs in the United States. The report calls for a comprehensive immigration reform plan to include measures to protect the rights of those who come here under various work visa programs.
WASHINGTON—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the release today of the report, "The American Dream Up for Sale: A Blueprint for Ending International Labor Recruitment Abuse":
"The outrageous practices cataloged in this report cry out for justice and we have an obligation to reform the systems that are allowing them to happen. The American Federation of Teachers is proud to be a part of the coalition that produced today's report, and we stand with all who call for reforms that will break the cycles of exploitation that engulf so many immigrant workers.
"Three years ago, the AFT brought to light the abuses of nearly 350 Filipino teachers recruited to work in Louisiana. These teachers borrowed money to pay massive fees, had their documents seized, and faced threats and extortion. Their story was a shock to our union—and a call to action. One of them, Ingrid Cruz, is profiled in today's report. Through a federal lawsuit pursued by the AFT and the Southern Poverty Law Center, the recruitment agency and its owner were ordered to pay $4.5 million to these teachers in December.
"Today's report makes clear that such abuses are not isolated incidents—they permeate the system. The AFT and others in this coalition have outlined a set of core principles for the kind of treatment that any worker in our nation should be able to expect. Ideals such as freedom from discrimination or coercion, access to justice and information, and freedom of movement and association are not reserved for citizens alone. They are universal values for which our country stands, and they must apply to any worker on our soil.
"As our nation begins the essential work of comprehensive immigration reform, we must roll up our sleeves and put all the important issues on the table. It is imperative that the agenda include reasonable regulation of the international recruitment process. This report outlines a series of sensible and necessary reforms, including the creation of a national recruiter registry, public disclosure of information, and the elimination of fees for workers to get jobs.
"The AFT will work to make those changes part of a commonsense, compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform plan."
Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/rweingarten
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.