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[Excerpt] Over its long and often turbulent evolution, the American labor movement has confronted few issues as persistently and as difficult has those related to subject of immigration. By definition, immigration affects the size of the labor force at any given time as well as its geographical distribution and skill composition. These vital influences, in turn, affect national, regional and local labor market conditions. Most immigrants directly join the labor force upon entering the country, as do eventually most of their family members. Hence, organized labor never has ignored immigration trends. As Samuel Gompers, one of the founders of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and its long-time president, wrote in his autobiography: “Immigration is, in its most fundamental aspects, a labor problem.”


Suggested Citation

Briggs, V. M. (2011, March 7). Illegal immigration and the dilemma of American unions. History News Network. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

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Reprinted with permission of the History News Network.