PSN In The News

Feb 04, 2009
President Obama's pick for secretary of labor, Rep. Hilda Solis, could help shape a new approach to immigration control that emphasizes the robust enforcement of labor laws.

Where the Bush administration stepped up workplace immigration enforcement, sweeping up migrant workers and not always going after the employers who illegally hire them, the Obama administration is expected to take a different tack.

Immigrant advocates hope that strengthening compliance with workplace health and safety laws and wage and hour standards - which Solis promised in her hearing before the labor committee in January - will protect workers in general and could reduce the likelihood that some employers will seek to profit by hiring undocumented workers.
Feb 04, 2009
Alex Aronson is hard to pin down for an interview. He's on a bus when I finally reach him by phone, and he is returning from an excursion to Oregon's state Capitol. "What are you up to?" I ask. "Well," he says, "I'm covered in gold body paint and shiny gold clothing." The only thing missing from his homage to the golden pioneer perched atop Oregon's Capitol is an ax. Aronson explains that his was confiscated when he went into the house chamber to watch the swearing-in of the state legislators--among them, founder and president of the Oregon-based Bus Project, Jefferson Smith.
Jan 25, 2009
News item #1: As of Nov. 30, 13 states had enacted 19 employment laws related to immigrants since Jan. 1, 2008, according to a December report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The laws covered hiring unauthorized workers, employment verification, unemployment benefits and so forth.

The states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and, of course, Mississippi.
Sep 19, 2008

LUDDEN: Nathan Newman(ph) is with the Progressive States Network which supports immigrant-friendly legislation. He points out that in 2006 a number of Congressional candidates who ran on a hard line anti-immigration platform lost. The same thing happened in the Republican presidential primaries. And Newman says states which have past immigration crackdowns have had mixed results. That may explain why for all the immigration bills considered by state legislators in recent years few have actually passed.

Mr. NEWMAN: There's been a message that this wasn't going to be the magic wedge issue that some political opportunists on the conservative side had hoped for. I think that meant that both the money and volunteer time to try to support new ballot initiatives just wasn't there in these states.

Sep 16, 2008

A state's stance on immigration policy impacts the number of illegal immigrants who live in that state, according to a report released yesterday by a pro-immigrant rights group.

"The Anti-Immigrant Movement That Failed," which was written by Progressive States Network (PSN), says Colorado has passed mixed policies towards illegal immigrants.
Sep 16, 2008
A handful of conservative states with a recent influx of immigrantshave drawn national attention for passing "punitive" immigration laws,but the reality is most state legislatures are quietly welcomingnewcomers, according to a new report released Thursday.
Apr 02, 2008
As families in Iowa struggle to make ends meet, they are justified in feeling threatened when they see what were once good jobs turned into low-wage, sweatshop labor. 

In industries across the country, workers are not receiving the wages owed them under minimum-wage and overtime laws. Earlier this decade, a U.S. Department of Labor report found that 60 percent of U.S. nursing homes routinely violated overtime, minimum-wage or child-labor laws. Other studies have found similar levels of violations in the garment and restaurant industries. 

In Iowa, the minimum-wage and overtime laws have some of the weakest enforcement provisions of any state in the country. Penalties usually amount to no more than telling employers to pay what they originally owed their workers. Because legal action is so expensive and so likely to produce meager returns, few employees can afford to pursue claims. Because civil fines are so low, the state doesn't collect enough for strong, ongoing enforcement. 
Nov 18, 2007

Democratic activists and state lawmakers are working fast to make sure that illegal immigration is not an issue that can be used against them in elections next year, but the debate already is dogging some presidential candidates. 

The Progressive States Network, a liberal advocacy and research group, released a strategy memorandum Thursday that outlines how Democrats can fight the outcry over illegal immigration in 2008. The paper urges Democratic candidates to emphasize the political and economic costs of aggressive anti-immigration proposals and to challenge attempts by Republicans to lump together the issues of illegal immigration and terrorism. The memo is part of the network's ongoing project to shape the immigration debate at the state level next year. 

Nov 12, 2007
Progressive States Outreach Coordinator Marisol Thomer talks about the states and immigration on The Progressive News with John Scott on the Bay Area's Green 960. The section with Marisol is just past halfway through the hour.