Since 1919, the International Labor Organization has brought together governments, employers, and workers from 187 UN Member States to set labor standards, develop policies and devise programs promoting decent work environments for all women and men. During a convention to address migrant workers’ rights, the ILO pronounced that employers should provide migrant workers “treatment no less favorable than that which is applied to its own nationals,” and that it is necessary “to respect the basic human rights of all migrant workers.” Here in the United States, that is simply not the case.
It may be illegal, but hiring undocumented workers is a long-standing practice in the agriculture and food production industries. While the oft-given justification is that these workers “do jobs Americans won’t,” this is not necessarily the reason many employers hire them. A more accurate statement might be that undocumented immigrant workers tend to do jobs Americans would do, but they do it for lower pay and under unsafe conditions. And that, at its core, is the problem: employers who hire undocumented workers often treat them poorly because they can. Meanwhile, undocumented workers are risking life and limb for their income, and if they complain, they risk losing their jobs or being deported.