In 2008, Bernie traveled to the tomato fields surrounding Immokalee, Florida, where he met with migrant workers being paid starvation wages. The work was hot and grueling, and the workers were being exploited. His contempt at the profits being made on the backs of these people drove him to set up a Senate committee hearing regarding abusive labor practices. Bernie’s actions initiated a tremendous grassroots effort on this issue, and working conditions in Immokalee improved and workers received a wage increase.
But that was only one geographic area.
Many CEOs argue for a massive expansion of temporary guest worker programs. Bernie is opposed to this kind of program because historically the workers get ripped off. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has shown, employers routinely cheat the guest workers. They cheat them out of wages, hold employees captive by seizing documents, coerce workers to live in inhumane conditions, and deny medical treatment for on-the-job injuries. Bernie believes this kind of injustice must be dealt with as a first step to any kind of “guest worker” program.
Bernie Sanders also believes we cannot sweep up millions of Latino men, women, and children, many of whom lived here for many years, and contribute to our society, and throw them out of the country unjustly. Sadly, many in Congress now advocate for the United States to turn our backs on migrants, using refugees fleeing violence and terrorism in Syria as their excuse for blocking all migrants (except the rich ones) from the United States.
Bernie believes we cannot support mindless racism and bigotry. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided by the anti-immigrant and xenophobic hysteria that Republican presidential candidates are promoting.
Creating a real immigration policy, one that stops arrests in communities of color, and keeps families together, will be a top priority for the Sanders Administration. Immigration policies will make the sanctity of families a priority and will be support intelligent behavior, and civil and human labor rights. As Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders moves our nation towards common sense immigration policies, we can reverse the decline of our middle class, allow the United States to compete economically in the 21st Century and build upon the best parts of our traditions of embracing diversity and harnessing it for the common good. For more about the plan, go here.
Or, check out Hillary Clintons history on immigration, here.