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Voting-rights groups sue AZ to block 'Election Security' Bills; U.S House vote expected today on the new Inflation Reduction Act; the Attorney General moves to release details on search of Trump s home.

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Infrastructure funding is on its way, ranchers anticipate money from the Inflation Reduction Act, and rural America is becoming more diverse, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the leadership.

Bring Migrant Workers Out of Shadows, Improve Conditions for All?

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013   

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - In West Virginia and elsewhere, some U.S. citizens say they're worried that immigration reform could mean more competition for jobs. But clergy members who serve undocumented workers say what's more likely is that migrants' jobs would be forced closer to American standards.

According to the Reverend Michael Livingston, national public policy director for Interfaith Worker Justice, employers could have no choice but to improve the pay and working conditions that now keep migrant workers in the shadows of the labor force.

"Pay below minimum wage, no health benefits," he cited. "That job exists because employers are employing people who are at their mercy. That doesn't help anybody: it doesn't help the worker, and it doesn't help someone who might want that job."

Undocumented workers in some industries lack the protections that citizens may take for granted on the job, such as health and safety rules, wage and hour laws, the right to organize or sue. The Reverend Jim Lewis of Charleston said they work under conditions few native-born employees would stand for. And when workers are brought out of the shadows, Lewis predicted, that will change.

"So that, when an employer is going out to look for a worker, they're going to have to bump into the very same economic realities, whether they're dealing with a native-born American or someone from Nicaragua."

Rather than driving down wages, one estimate says, giving migrants legal status would add $80 billion to the U.S. economy and increase tax revenues by $10 billion a year.

But for now, Lewis used an example of the migrant poultry workers he used to counsel. He said a worker might handle 15,000 pieces of chicken a day in a slaughterhouse, and wouldn't be able to stop, even if they cut themselves badly on the line.

"The workers work in fear," Lewis charged. "They get injured, and they get sent to a company doctor and they're told to go back to work - and they'd better go back to work."

The U.S. Senate is currently working on bipartisan immigration reform legislation.





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