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POWER Act needed to protect workers

I am pleased to see some of our national elected officials tirelessly discussing immigration reform, an issue that should concern every American.

The immigration reform bill was developed and drafted by a bipartisan group of eight senators collectively known as the Gang of Eight, including Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to adjust our current immigration policies. The bill calls for stronger border security, while expanding immigrant visas and providing interior enforcement. Under the title immigrant visas, there is a provision called the POWER Act (Protecting our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation). The act is designed to protect the rights of immigrant workers to expose labor abuses without fear of retaliation. This provision will not only secure job opportunities, wages and working conditions for immigrant workers, but also for U.S.-born workers. The act is quite simply about ensuring dignity for all workers here in America.

Some protections provided by the POWER Act to workers who defend their rights include, but are not limited to, providing temporary protection for victims of crimes and labor retaliation, ensuring worker protection laws are equally enforced in all work places and holding employers responsible for labor law violations.

This immigration reform bill will have a direct impact in our culturally diverse Western New York. The region is home to many refugee and immigrant families, some of whom may not have access to or understanding of their civil and labor rights or might be scared of speaking up. This community has been proven to be more likely to suffer from exploitation or retaliation. The reform bill, and particularly the POWER Act, would protect all new Americans at the work place as well as increase for protections for current citizens.

Saladi Shebule

Coalition for Economic Justice

Buffalo