Today’s News & Commentary — August 13, 2019


Published August 13th, 2019 - 08.13.194


Yesterday, the Trump Administration issued its “public charge” rule, which allows U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to deny greencards to any documented immigrants who have used, or who USCIS believes are likely to use, public benefits like food stamps or Medicaid. The final rule effectively gives USCIS discretion to deny permanent residency to immigrants solely because of their low incomes. The National Immigration Law Center, which immediately announced plans to sue the Trump Administration over the rule, estimates that 26 million people could be impacted. The Department of Homeland Security’s own proposal estimates that almost a third of noncitizens currently enrolled in public benefits programs like food stamps, WIC, and Medicaid will drop out for fear of being denied status. Experts believe that the chilling effect will hurt U.S. citizen children as well, because immigrant parents may be chilled from enrolling citizen children in programs like SNAP and free school lunch. So much for “give us your tired, your poor, your hungry.”

Major airlines are suing Massachusetts, Washington, and New York City to stop paid sick leave laws. If their lawsuits are successful, American Airlines could keep penalizing workers for taking sick days—and expose cross-country travelers to germs by forcing sick employees to come in. Delta, American, and Airlines for America, an industry association, argue that airlines can’t comply with state laws that differ across state lines: a flight attendant flying from Houston to New York might have more sick leave rights when they landed than they had at take-off. But, as OnLabor contributor Terri Gerstein points out at the American Prospect, airlines are large multi-national companies that already comply with different wage, benefits, and civil rights laws that vary across states—and if inconsistency is the problem, they could be lobbying for a federal paid leave law.

In a new feature for the Nation, Bryce Covert explains that decades after the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, American workers are still routinely denied pregnancy accommodations. Many large employers still employ “no-fault” absence policies in which employees can get a pink slip for missing work—even for pregnancy-related care. Covert points out that Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, was sued just last year over their no-fault policy after firing two employees whose pregnancy-related hospital care was deemed “unauthorized” by the retail giant. Under pressure from the suit, Walmart changed its policy in February. Workers should be eligible for unpaid leave while pregnant under the Family and Medical Leave Act. But because the law only applies to employers with 50 or more employees, the law leaves 44 percent of private sector workers behind. Read Covert’s article, including an easy-to-understand breakdown of the nation’s patchwork protections for pregnant workers, here.

The Trump Administration is moving to “dissolve a federal immigration judges’ union that’s been a fierce critic of its policies,” Bloomberg reports. The Department of Justice field a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority arguing that immigration judges are all managers who cannot be part of a union. The immigration judges’ union has clashed with the Trump Administration over the White House’s attempts to speed up deportations by imposing case processing quotas on judges, arguing that the plan undermined due process and judicial independence. Judge Ashley Tabaddor, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, argued that the move was “nothing more than a desperate attempt by the DOJ to evade transparency and accountability, and undermine the decisional independence of the nation’s 440 Immigration Judges,”

Congratulations to the Ringer editorial staff, who just announced a staff union! The Ringer is the latest in a series of unionization campaigns taking digital media by storm.

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