Mexico reviewing Alabama immigration law under international labor treaty

[JURIST] The Mexican government announced Thursday that it is reviewing a complaint [complaint, PDF] by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) [union website] that Alabama's immigration law [HB 56, PDF] violates [press release] the North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) [texts]. The SEIU argues that the law violates the NAALC, the labor side agreement to NAFTA, by failing to meet labor standards and ensure workers' access to procedures and remedies for obtaining workers' compensation. The SEIU specifically alleges that Alabama's immigration law is violating the protections granted to migrant workers under the treaty. The SEIU argues that Alabama's immigration law is discriminatory and abusive towards all workers and that the law violates both international human rights standards and labor standards. According to the complaint:

The law creates a subclass of super-exploitable migrant workers, sowing fear and confusion to marginalize and oppress all migrant workers regardless of their documents. This law deprives migrant workers of the same legal protection as U.S. nationals. Moreover, all workers suffer when migrant workers are too fearful to complain even when they suffer the most egregious violations of their labor and employment rights.
Although the SEIU contends that the anti-immigration laws of many different states violate the NAALC, the labor union asserts that Alabama's law is one of the most flagrant violations of the international trade agreement. Mexico's Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare [official profile, in Spanish] said that Mexico will open a dialogue between the two countries as provided under this trade agreement.

Earlier this month Alabama state officials petitioned the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to reconsider a ruling partially striking down [JURIST reports] the state's immigration law. In August a three-judge upheld several provisions, including one allowing police officers to check the immigration status of persons suspected of a crime, but rejected provisions making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work or solicit work, imposing criminal penalties on persons who rent property to illegal immigrants and requiring state officials to check the immigration status of children in public schools. Also in August, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it will establish a civil rights unit [JURIST report] in Alabama in the wake of the state's contentious immigration law raising concerns about compliance with federal law. In the speech, Assistant US Attorney General Thomas Perez argued that Alabama's immigration law threatens the rights of undocumented immigrants as well as the children of these immigrants.

 

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