‘Illegalized’ Migrant Workers and the Struggle for a Living Wage


  • Charity-Ann Hannan
  • Harald Bauder
  • John Shields


A higher proportion of workers are earning sub-poverty wages
today, compared to few decades ago. Illegalized migrant workers have
been disproportionately affected by this trend through super-exploitative
employer practices. To improve the wages of low-wage workers, members
of unions, community groups, activists, and support coalitions have
launched living wage campaigns in cities in the USA, UK and, more
recently, Canada. Recognizing that illegalized migrant workers’ lack of
legal status is valuable to neoliberalism’s economic “success”, yet at the
same time, subjects them to arrest and/or deportation by federal
immigration authorities, this paper examines modern living wage
campaigns, and how they have incorporated the situation of illegalized
migrant workers into their agenda. A review of the literature shows that
living wage campaigns have not been very successful in achieving their
broad goals while at the same time protecting low-waged illegalized
migrant workers. These findings indicate that current and future living
wage campaigns should consider working closely with Sanctuary City
campaigns to improve their strategies for protecting illegalized migrants
from arrest and/or deportation while working to improve the working and
living conditions of low-waged workers, including the illegalized.


How to Cite

Hannan, C.-A., Bauder, H., & Shields, J. (2016). ‘Illegalized’ Migrant Workers and the Struggle for a Living Wage. Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research, 27. Retrieved from https://alternateroutes.ca/index.php/ar/article/view/22395