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Rights groups decry US treatment of illegal immigrants

[JURIST] The United States is violating its universal human rights obligations by its failure to protect millions of illegal immigrant workers from exploitation and discrimination in the workplace, according to a petition [PDF text; press release] filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) [official website] Wednesday. The petition was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Employment Law Project [advocacy websites] and the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law with the IACHR on behalf of the United Mine Workers of America, the AFL-CIO, Interfaith Justice Network [group websites] and six immigrant workers [descriptions of petitioners, PDF] in order to draw attention to the six million illegal immigrants who make up nearly five percent of the US labor force.

Announcing the petition, ACLU attorney Claudia Flores said:

The most poorly paid and least desirable jobs in the United States are filled by undocumented immigrants, yet the government increasingly limits the safeguards available to this population, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and workplace discrimination. The United States government has an obligation under universal human rights norms to protect vulnerable populations, such as immigrant women, and has failed in this regard.
Illegal immigration in the US has received increased attention recently as President Bush signed [JURIST report] the Secure Fence Act of 2006 [PDF text; HR 6061 summary] last month authorizing 700 miles of fencing [JURIST news archive] along the US-Mexico border. The legislation represents the second portion of a two-part plan to tackle illegal immigration [JURIST news archive] in the US; the first half of the legislation creates a $34.8 billion fund for tackling immigration issues, including the money to build the 700-mile fence. Reuters has more.

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