House Democrats pass bill expanding protections for undocumented workers: Report

House Democrats passed a bill on Friday giving illegal immigrants the ability to sue over labor rights violations, the Washington Examiner reported

The measure, called the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, gives undocumented workers increased protections and legal standing and makes a slew of other changes to the nation’s labor laws that, according to the Examiner, aim “to expand labor protections, boost unions, and end worker misclassification. The bill also effectively abolishes state right-to-work laws,” the Examiner noted.

A vote along party lines

As things stand, immigrants who are in the country illegally are not able to use the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or the court system to pursue monetary compensation for violations of their rights, including in cases of wrongful termination. Of course, this makes sense; those working in the U.S. illegally shouldn’t be granted protections under U.S. law.

But a bill passed the House in a 224–193 vote on Friday that seeks to change that. The vote fell largely along party lines, with just five Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

Still, The Hill reports that the bill is expected to die in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“This is not right”

Advocates of the bill say it would help protect American workers (legal and illegal, apparently). But critics, like freshman Republican Rep. Kevin Hern (OK), say the measure would give too much power to labor unions.

“Where workers have previously had the freedom to choose whether or not to pay fees and join a union, they will now be forced to pay membership fees or lose their job,” Hern said, according to the Examiner. “This will put immeasurable power in the hands of union bosses.”

The legislation would also cause problems for American employers, the Federation for American Immigration Reform argued in a statement.

“Under this bill, if an employer makes the admirable decision of firing an illegal worker to hire an American instead, they could face an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the illegal alien was fired for union status rather than being here illegally,” the group said, according to the Examiner. “This is not right.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne Clark similarly slammed the bill for threatening American workers’ livelihoods.

“It violates workers’ privacy, takes away private ballots in union organizing elections, imposes California’s restrictive independent contractor test that is already costing people their livelihoods, and threatens workers with the loss of a job if they don’t pay union dues,” Clark said, according to The Hill. “Members of Congress will not get a free pass on this vote just because the PRO Act will not get through the Senate.”

Looking forward

Of course, it’s no surprise that Democrats are trying to push a piece of legislation like this through Congress. After all, they’ve become known in recent years for putting illegal immigrants first and Americans second.

The saving grace in all of this is that we have President Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in charge of the Senate. In other words, this bill doesn’t stand a chance.

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