Throughout our country’s history, laws have been passed in the name of protecting American workers, when in reality they serve to divide working people, criminalize a group of workers, and maintain a cheap pool of labor in this country. (See timeline). The purported intent of employer sanctions was to deter illegal immigration and to protect American jobs by targeting the demand for undocumented workers. Yet, government, community groups, labor unions, and scholars recognize that employer sanctions has accomplished neither goal. Employer’s Sanctions:
DID NOT PROTECT:
- Made the undocumented workforce even more attractive by stripping away workers’ rights to demand fair conditions
- Forced U.S. citizens and documented workers to compete with them in a race to the bottom.
DID NOT DETER:
- Increased the demand for a vulnerable group of workers demand for cheap labor.
- There is an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., a dramatic increase from the estimated 4 million present when IRCA was enacted.
DID RESULT IN:
- Undermined the ability for workers to come together. Union membership continues to be decimated, going from 17.5% in 1986 to 10.5% in 2018.
- Undermined the ability for workers to fight for better conditions. Real wages today, adjusted for inflation, is the same as it was 40 years ago.
- Criminalized undocumented workers- in 2018, there was an average of 42,000 in ICE custody a day.
Productivity rose with wages from 1950 until the mid-1980s when the employers’ sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform Control Act was passed. Thereafter, workers’ productivity continued to skyrocket, but wages stagnated.