In American labor’s response to immigration over time, one can observe “a movement wrestling” between restrictionist and solidaristic positions. A crucial transformation of American labor’s response to immigration occurred from the 1930s to the 1960s which is attributed to four factors: changes in the structure and composition of the labor market, shifts in immigration flows, shifts in the attitudes of the labor movement toward immigrants, and the changing disposition of the American state toward unions. In this article we look at the policy choices and dilemmas that have faced the American labor movement since the 1940’s, putting forth a conceptual framework for understanding labor’s shifting positions over time and identifying critical moments in American political development. Having laid this foundation, we move on to a consideration of labor’s most recent positions concerning contemporary policy debates.
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