Most Pro-Union President has doubts in labor ranks
What Happened to Railway Workers in a Trap? An Opposition Viewpoint on the Biden-Biden Enactment of the Railroad Labor Contract
Even the railway labor situation, in which Mr. Biden urged Congress to enact a contract that included significant wage gains and improvements in health benefits, ended up more favorable to workers than it probably would have under another administration, union officials say.
Mr. Biden has “gestured in interesting ways in certain moments,” said Gabriel Winant, a labor historian at the University of Chicago. “But it doesn’t seem like he has the stomach to see the gestures through.”
Editor’s Note: Lawrence Downes, a writer and editor, covered immigration and politics for The New York Times Editorial Board from 2004 to 2017. He is the co-author, with Linda Ronstadt, of “Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands.” His own opinions are in this commentary. View more opinion on CNN.
The State of the Union Address Revisited: Job and Work for Immigrants at the Turn of the Screw During President Biden’s Decline
President Joe Biden talked a lot about jobs and workers during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. That was expected — the address is a report card, and presidents love to brag about their grades, in this case booming job numbers and the lowest unemployment rate since 1969.
The speech was perfect for the president as it was a great time for a great industrial renewal.
These strong economic tailwinds have given Biden a chance to reshape the conversation about work in the United States; to make it more honest, and to show how making the American workplace better for everyone means making it better and safer for immigrants, including the 11 million undocumented.
What a missed opportunity, especially in this time of rampant prejudice and border politics that are the gift of former President Donald Trump.
But on Tuesday he needed to go further — to connect the industrial dots, to defy the mindset about immigrants that separates “them” from “us,” to make it clear that supporting American workers and doing right by America’s immigrants are essentially the same thing.
Because most Americans in reflector vests and steel-toe boots or working drive-through booths or checkout lines have more in common with immigrant day laborers or nannies than with the right-wing politicians and media figures who stoke America with rage about the foreign-born.
But hope is a hard thing to suppress, and immigrants’ determination can prod leaders into action. Former President Barack Obama ran a prodigious deportation campaign, but he also created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect young immigrant “Dreamers” — a bold executive move that did more for immigrants than Congress has in decades. Those young immigrants pushed Obama to do the right thing. Biden can be inspired by immigrant workers.
It protects the rights of all workers, including native-born Americans. If Biden wants to be the labor president, he should be hitting this point hard and often. We can’t have labor protections that only apply to some workers, or that immigrants are exploited and treated like they don’t exist. We can’t keep postponing justice until there is a goal and a wall is built.
The governors of Texas and Florida are in charge of immigration policies, which includes busing immigrants all the way across the country in the dead of winter, and calling it a wall.
Congress hasn’t come close to a major overhaul of immigration laws since Ted Kennedy and John McCain were in the Senate. Many of their successors have no interest in governing in good faith. Biden should not be passing the legislative buck to them.
What if instead of calling on Congress to fix things, Biden was going to meet with day laborers in order to sign them up as workplace whistle blowers?
He might promise to go to a memorial service for immigrants who died on the front lines of the epidemic so that we could stay safe at home. What if he proposed immigration relief for their surviving relatives — citizenship to honor their ultimate sacrifice?
Republican would be angry. But of course they would. They care not at all about the injustice of millions working on the edge of survival. They use immigrants as bait to point out wrong-doers in order to get the attention of their base.
It’s an old story, and many native-born keep falling for it. On Long Island, where I live, people spent years arguing over immigrant day laborers — and missing the point completely. The workers filled a labor gap — contractors and homeowners wanted them for jobs they wouldn’t or couldn’t do themselves. Politicians and talk-show hosts spread the hostility until it came to be hated. Workers were sometimes hunted and killed.
This was true in every part of the country. One day, a real estate developer and entertainer from Queens said he was running for president to deal with some Mexican immigrants who were rapists. He called America a dumping ground for the rest of the world. In 2015, some opinion journalists seemed amused or intrigued to see an entertaining new celebrity shaking up our infotainment politics.
There was four years of hatred after the entertainer won the presidency. Children were taken away from their parents. Migrants who were trying to get asylum were turned away. Unprecedented limits on asylum also made conditions more dangerous. Under the Trump administration, migrants were forced to wait outside the US while their asylum cases were pending in order to not put them in harm’s way, as well as other migrants who had died crossing the burning Sonoran Desert. Police say a shooter slaughtered dozens of Latinos at a WalMart in El Paso, Texas, after posting an online manifesto railing against Hispanics.
Implications of Biden’s failure to tread lightly on immigration: the Fox News Tribune’s View of the Boundary Between the Premeditary and Postprime
Conventional political thinking states that Biden will be regretting giving Fox News more things to rouse the crowd with if he does not tread lightly on immigration.