David Bacon Stories & Photographs


The following is a proposal for a pro-immigrant, pro-labor immigration bill for the 110th Congress. It is the fruit of discussion among a number of immigrant rights and labor advocates and organizations. It has been adopted by the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, which encourages other organizations to discuss it, improve on it, and adopt it as well.

For more information, contact:
Bill Chandler, MIRA, bcmobilize@bellsouth.net
David Bacon, dbacon@igc.org

Proposed Concepts for Immigration Legislation - 110th Congress


All people living in the U.S. without legal immigration status can apply for permanent residence status upon passage of this bill. From the date of passage of the bill forward, all immigrants living in the U.S. for at least five years shall be eligible to apply for permanent residence status.

All legal residents, including newly legalized people, will have the same labor and civil rights as the general population, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.

End the deportation of permanent residents for criminal violations, and indefinite detention. Restore due process rights, equal access to the courts and meaningful judicial review for all immigrants.

Use the fees paid by visa applicants to establish job training and job creation programs in communities in the U.S. suffering from high levels of unemployment


Family unification has been the cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy since 1965. Any changes to immigration laws should not compromise this basic value.

In order to meet the global demand of immigrants to be reunited with their families, the total number of family-based visas available will be increased to 960,000 annually. Moreover, the visas allocated to immediate relatives of US citizens will not be deducted from this new global cap of 960,000. This amendment would ensure that all 960,000 visas go to the family preference. (This approach combines the best elements of HR 2092 and S 2611 relating to family unification.)


There will be no increase in the number of visas issued under existing temporary visa programs which tie the status of immigrants to a work status, or to an employer. No new work-related visa programs will be created. Holders of temporary work visas will have full legal and labor rights. Employers are prohibited from recruiting workers outside the U.S.


Repeal section 274a - the employer sanction provision of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, and eliminate the verification of immigration status in relation to employment, by employers or government agencies. Immigration status should not be enforced in the workplace or as a condition of hiring, because twenty years of experience shows this prevents immigrant workers from exercising labor rights and enforceing labor protection legislation effectively. The focus of workplace enforcement should be on requiring employers to maintain legal standards in wages, conditions and organizing rights.


Make it an unfair labor practice to threaten workers in relation to their immigration status to prevent them from organizing or filing complaits about the violation of fair labor standards, anti-discrimination laws, or other statutes..

Ensure the privacy of Social Security records, prohibiting SSA from sharing its database with other government agencies, including BICE and Homeland Security. Mandate the use of SSA records exclusively for ensuring that workers receive the benefits to which they are entitled. Make it an unfair labor practice for an employer to fire or discriminate against any worker because of discrepencies in their Social Security records. Prohibit Homeland Security and other government agencies from using SSA data for immigration enforcement purposes.

Increase the budget for the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, and for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and fund special programs for labor law enforcement in industries in which immigrants are concentrated. Prohibit DoL and OSHA inspectors from sharing information with BICE and Homeland Security, or the use of information they collect for immigration enforcement purposes.

Congress should carry out a study of the impact of immigration enforcement on the ability of immigrant workers to exercise their labor rights.

Prohibit the NLRB from considering immigration status in the reinstatement of workers fired for union activity or collective action, and from considering immigration status in determining back wage claims. This can only be done once employer sanctions are repealed. Reverse the pre-IRCA Supreme Court decision (Sure-Tan) which limits the ability of workers in the country without authorization to recover backpay for the time period they were "unavailable for work," and prevents reinstatement of workers not authorized to reside in the US.

Prohibit states from considering immigration status in determining workers compensation, disability and unemployment benefits. This prohibition will only apply to questions of immigration status. In all other respects, states will continue to regulate in this area. Prohibit SSA from considering immigration status in determining benefit payments.

Allow OSHA complaints to be filed by third parties, and parties off the worksite, so that immigrant and other vulnerable workers can receive protection without having to make complaints in person and in their own name.

Codify the internal DHS operating guidance that prevents immigration enforcement during a labor dispute.

Amend Title VII to include citizenship discrimination, which is now only actionable through IRCA and does not cover non-immigrants (H workers, TPS workers, etc.)


End deadly border enforcement policies, and protect the human rights and constitutional liberties of all immigrants and communities on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border, including high technological surveillance. Cease all enforcement policies, practices, measures, laws, and strategies that force migrants to cross through the most dangerous areas in the mountains and deserts where hundreds die every year. Prevent the initiation of policies to militarize the U.S.-Canada border. Tear down down the walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. Establish mechanisms for independent civilian and community-based oversight of border enforcement activity and of the detention policies pursued by the Department of Homeland Security.

Grant unrestricted crossing rights for members of Indigenous nations and communities living on both sides of the border.

Create sustainable economic development policies in developing countries, instead of promoting free trade policies which lead to the displacement of communities and their forced migration.

Negotiate bi-lateral migration policies and practices that uphold the human rights of migrants with governments in the countries from which they come.

Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families.


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photographs and stories by David Bacon © 1990-1999

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