AFL-CIO is patting itself on the back with a new report released Monday claiming it was right about U.S. trade and immigration policies.
In the report, “Trade, Violence and Migration: The Broken Promises to Honduran Workers,” the AFL-CIO pointed to various trade and immigration policies as contributing greatly to the unaccompanied minor crisis at the U.S. border this past summer.
The report points to the Central America Free Trade Agreement as one of the primary reasons so many have been forced to flee South America to the U.S. Border. CAFTA is an international treaty, supported by former President George W. Bush, designed to create a free trade agreement between the United States and the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
“President George W. Bush promised the measure would help stabilize governance in the region, describing CAFTA as ‘a pro-jobs bill…a pro-growth bill…and a pro-democracy bill,’” the report noted. “As workers have come to find out firsthand, CAFTA only has exacerbated the desperation and instability in Honduras.”
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The union report found the CAFTA caused these countries to pursue bad labor policies in order to compete against other countries. It also prompted gangs to emerge and violence to consume the region.
All of this, the AFL-CIO claims, prompted many immigrants to flee to the border which caused the immigration crisis.
“Today, migration is seen by many families as a means to escape violence or seek employment opportunity or reunite with family,” the report noted. “Children have been caught up in this dynamic, as violence has driven them from their homes and onto trains heading north. By fleeing violence in their home countries in Central America, children may become victims of trafficking, crippling injury, abuse and further violence. Further, they risk detention and deportation by immigration enforcement agents.”
Since the crisis began however, many have pointed to other possible root causes for the influx of immigrants.
During the Judiciary Hearing “An Administration Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Alien Minors” several experts argued the Obama administration is to blame for the problem.
“Undoubtedly, seeing strife in economically disadvantaged countries, along with seeing impoverished women and children showing up at our Nation’s doorstep, arouses the deepest of sympathies,” a report from the hearing detailed. “However, the factors causing the recent and unprecedented surge are very different than those claimed by the Administration.
“While no new law has been enacted, the truth is that this Administration has dramatically altered immigration enforcement policies,” they argued. “The timing of the change in policies correlates closely with the steep uptick of individuals showing up at the border. Apparently, word has gotten out that once encountered by Border Patrol agents and processed, thanks to this Administration’s lax enforcement policies, one will likely never be removed.”
The AFL-CIO, and many other national unions, have been advocating for immigration reform while fighting free trade deals for a long time.
After President Obama’s controversial executive order to grant millions of illegal immigrant’s amnesty, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement, “On behalf of America’s workers, we applaud the Administration’s willingness to act. We have been calling upon the White House to halt unnecessary deportations since Spring 2013 because our broken immigration system is an invitation for employer manipulation and abuse.”
Back in 2005, then AFL-CIO president John Sweeney said in a statement, “CAFTA will cost good jobs in the U.S. and trap Central American workers in exploitation and poverty. The accord’s unacceptably weak rules on workers’ rights only require countries to enforce the domestic labor laws they happen to have, no matter how far short of international standards those laws fall nor how much further they may be weakened in the future.”
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