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Another Call For Immigration Reform, This Time From Many Voices
by Jose Latour

As the momentum builds since the terrorist-visa-approval blunder, INS seems to be lumbering like a punch drunk boxer, unresponsive to the colossal outcry from an outraged public. With Congress, the President, even the Attorney General on its warpath, the feeble "reassignments" of those responsible did literally nothing to temper the collective response, and those of us who are trying our best to paint a realistic picture of what is and what is NOT the fault of INS are being drowned out by the hysteria. Not a thing we can do about it so far.

The most recent call for reform comes from a powerful, if somewhat unlikely, alliance including the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. While I respect and support interest of the Chamber as it relates to the immigration issue, I have to tell you that my Republican hackles rise every time the AFL-CIO pipes up as a "pro-immigrant voice." It's just too big a pill for this horse to swallow. I'm old enough to remember what the AFL-CIO, Teamsters, and most other national labor organizations said about international labor all through the '90s, when I first started practicing immigration law. They were singing a different tune.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is quoted in a recent article as saying that the country should stand behind immigrant workers and their families and while I heartily agree, I question the motives of an organization which has, until recently, viewed foreign workers as the stated enemy. The truth is quite simple. With union membership dramatically declining in the U.S., organized labor made the strictly financial decision to do an about-face on the issue of immigrant workers. Last year's "illegal scabs" are this year's "valuable workers who should have the freedom to organize regardless of their immigration status." I agree with you, Mr. Sweeney, just as I believe that an illegal alien who is injured while working in the U.S. should have the same protections as a legal worker. It just really, really bugs me that were it not for your dramatically declining membership roles, your guys would still be viewing these guys with utter contempt. But times change. Here are a few questions you might want to answer, in writing, in both English and in Spanish, for all your new members from South of the border.

What will the AFL-CIO's position be on illegal alien workers when U.S. unemployment figures rise in a future recession?

Will the AFL-CIO's labor agreements act to protect the jobs of aliens who do not have a legal right to work in this country?

What exactly is the AFL-CIO giving these illegal alien members for their dues, when they don't even have the legal right to work in this country?

Just curious...

The AFL-CIO motives notwithstanding, they and the U.S. Chamber are in good company. The coalition includes the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, the National Council of La Raza and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the question is becoming not "whether," but "when." Stay tuned.

About The Author

Jose Latour is the founding partner of Latour & Lleras, P.A., a Gainesville, Florida based business immigration practice working primarily with the IT industry and foreign investors. JELPA is an A/V rated firm whose web site,, is one of the Internet’s most visited immigration sites. The firm was named “ONE OF AMERICA’S TOP TEN INTERNET/VIRTUAL COMPANIES” in the 1999 Inc. Magazine and Cisco Systems “Growing with Technology Awards.” Mr. Latour served as a U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officer in Mexico and Africa before entering private practice and today divides his time between his law practice, writing, flying, and his music.

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