ICE Raids Impact on Workers’ Rights

Talking Points for Unions, Advocates and Community Members



  • The immigration system is not broken; it is doing exactly what it was intended to do:  
    • Immigrants are among the most frequently and easily abused population of the total labor force. Many work 12-16 hours days with no overtime, and are often the target of robberies. In some cases, employers have adapted to using the illegal status of their employees as leverage against complaints. These workers are left without a voice and have no choice but to accept their potentially illegal working conditions. During the ICE raids in Postville, Iowa, in 2009, many of the workers (most who were mothers)  stated that their employers threatened to call ICE on them if they do not perform sexual sexual acts on them. We cannot allow these atrocities to happen on Long Island.
    • By leaving these workers option less, there is a precedent set for employers, leading them to falsely believe they may overlook their legal requirements to fulfill the rights of their workers.The current ICE raids, and the possibility of being a target for deportation, will allow bad employers to exploit immigrant workers even more. By having legislation that protects ALL workers, and holds bad employers accountable, we can stop the practice of using immigrants as exploitable cheap labor.
    • By allowing employers to threaten their illegal employees with deportation through ICE reports, workers rights across the board are cheapened, as these employees have just as many rights as any other employee in the workforce. Ignoring them in their time of need undoubtedly sets a tone that carries over to all workers in the long run.
  • The immigrant workforce has acted as first responders during tragedies and emergencies in recent years. When they came to our aid, we did not ask them for identification or to prove their citizenship. We cannot turn our backs now.
    • During the tragedy of 9/11, thousands of illegal immigrants answered the call of being a first responder. Many funds have been raised to aid in the healthcare of first responders who suffered negative health effects from working in those toxic environments, however, almost none of which extend to the population of undocumented workers who were at Ground Zero, despite there being a surplus of donation money. These workers wore little to no protective gear and in some cases spoke little to no English.
    • Here on Long Island, undocumented day laborers became an integral part of rebuilding communities across the island after Hurricane Sandy. Many assisted in removing mold, asbestos, and debris from homes along the south shore, putting their own health on the line.They proved themselves to be reliable and relevant members of the community.
  • Immigrant Workforce Contributes to the Economy
    • According to research reports done by David Kallic of Hofstra University, from 1990 to 2007, the immigrant population of Long Island rose from 11% to 16%. In that time, their share of the labor force has gone up from 12% to 21% and they account for $26.6 billion of the total $151 billion in the total economic output of 2007. The gross domestic product rose by 36% in that time, and just over a third of that growth is thanks to our growing population of immigrants.
    • In a report completed by the Hagedorn Foundation, it was found that immigrants paid an estimated $2.13 billion in taxes in 2006. Factoring in the costs of their housing, education, healthcare, and corrections, there is still $1.07 billion in net profit. These factors out roughly to about $2,305 per resident.
    • With these numbers in mind, it’s clear that the immigrant population manages to pull their own weight and then some. They contribute positively to the economy. After the raids that happened across the country this year,many parents feared picking their children up from school and many breadwinners feared leaving their homes to go to work.  This has had a great financial impact on each individual family unit  impacted as well as our economy as a whole.
  • Limiting Discourse on Immigration to only including families leaves out workers, LGBT folks, and other groups of people fleeing persecution
    • While the Obama administration has created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as  well as has taken many initiatives to assist unaccompanied children in fleeing gang violence from Central America, the focus on families has left out workers, particularly working men, LGBT folks, and other groups who are also fleeing violence. Everyone has a right to flee violence. According tot he Department of Homeland Security’s standard,  unlawful re-entry is a crime, having multiple violations, disorderly conduct, bounced checks, unpaid tickets, are all crimes. These offenses unfortunately  are often rooted in poverty, being unable to legally work, or homelessness.  We must include  workers, day laborers, LGBT folks, and everyone fleeing violence in our vision if immigration reform.

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