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Undocumented
workers have face harsh working conditions, abuse at the hands of their
employers, fear of being reported and deported for decades and up until now
there has been little to no action taken to protect these disadvantage workers.
Recently, a Bipartisan legislation has been discussed to take a stand on this
Human’s Rights issue. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and
California Reps. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) and George Miller (D-Martinez)
introduced legislation S.717-POWER Act that would give workers who have face
abuse at the hands of their employers provisional “U visas.” The
visas were designed to provide temporary legal status to immigrant victims who
come forward to report violent crimes, and the proposed legislation would
expand the protection to those who come forward to report workplace violations.

As Americans, who are
known to be ”For the People, By the People”, Americans should have their
voices heard and should advocate for an Act, such as the POWER Act which shows
that regardless of the Legal Status of the worker they are still a person who
deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. As Democratic Senator Menendez
stated, “When some workers are easy to exploit,” Menendez
said, “conditions for all workers suffer.”

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The
words used by Menendez have some truth to them as this mistreatment of workers
does not only effect undocumented workers in fact, this trend of abuse in the
workplace mostly affects minority groups, African Americans, Documented
Hispanics/Latinos, and Women. According to Harold Meyerson, journalist and member
of the Democratic Socialist Party who further explains that ”Undocumented immigrants are just one among many groups
of workers who effectively lack job protections that most Americans take for
granted. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act, known for having established a
national minimum wage and overtime pay, it excluded restaurant employees and
retail, domestic and farm workers. (It has been said that in order to win the
votes of Southern senators required President Franklin D. Roosevelt to effectively
exclude all occupations that were then largely filled by African Americans.)”.

 Harold Meyerson
emphasizes ”The Act has been since expanded to cover some of the workers,
however agricultural laborers have yet to be given the federal right to collect
over time, home health providers still have no federal right to a minimum wage
and ”tipped” workers like waiters are only entitled to a minimum of $2.13 an
hour. Agricultural and domestic workers still do not have a right to unionize
under the National Labor Relations Act (However, farm workers have won this
right on the state level in the state of California), low paid independent
contractors such as port truckers and taxi drivers are excluded.”

Inequalities
in the work place are not something the American people are new to, there have
always been those who are more privileged than others, employers taking
advantage of their workers. However, the American people are made to believe
these experiences and issues are a thing from the past that when Labor unions
were created all of these problems evaporated and to some extent that is true,
workers have more protections, but one cannot be oblivious and believe that
major corporations care about the vulnerable workers they employ.  For example,
construction workers, by this law are protected against this type of abuse,
they are  under the protections of wage,
hour and unionization laws. Since employers know they can violate these laws
with impunity because their workers have no union contract and are
undocumented. Most of the time the outcome of such conflicts is worker
deportation, not management fines. This exemption of undocumented immigrants
from the protection, in the workplace laws in reality encourages employers to
hire more undocumented workers. It is easy for management to ignore and not
uphold labor laws when employees can’t complain.

The
abuse and neglect suffered by undocumented workers isn’t just an immigration
issue as most opponents of the POWER Act would like to present it as, it is a
human rights issue. Most say that the workers wouldn’t suffer the abuse had
they just stayed in their country or come to the United States legally.
However, the millions of immigrants who come to the country illegally, wouldn’t
even come here in the first place if big corporations wouldn’t take advantage
and hire them, they migrate because they are aware that they are job
opportunities here, what they do not most of the time is that they will face
discrimination and abuse, by the time they are experiencing the abuse they are out
of options, if they report the employer, they can lose their job and face
deportation. 

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