The Department of Homeland Security took a positive step by clarifying and streamlining the process for protecting immigrant workers in labor disputes
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced a streamlined process that provides clarity on how migrant workers who are victims and witnesses of labor and employment abuses can apply for temporary protection, including protection from deportation through deferred action. and work permit. This is a positive step that would protect workers’ rights to be treated and paid fairly, organize and join unions, and allow them to assist labor standards enforcement agencies in their investigations.
EPI has joined hundreds of other immigrant and worker rights organizations to call on the Department of Homeland Security to clarify the process for how migrant workers involved in labor disputes can claim status protection. This will help workers and whistleblowers overcome their very reasonable concerns about coming forward to report labor and workplace violations. EPI also called on DHS to grant deferred action and conditional release to migrant workers in labor disputes with greater frequency and regularity across a wide range of conflicts, and in response to a wide range of labor and workplace violations. This action by the Department of Homeland Security is commendable, and I look forward to its swift implementation.
By using prosecutorial discretion to protect migrant workers involved in labor disputes by issuing temporary grants for deferred actions, DHS will help ensure that migrant workers can file claims against employers without the threat of retaliation and deportation. The Department of Homeland Security’s legal authority to do this on a case-by-case basis is well established, as well as to provide workers with a work permit so that they can support themselves financially while their claims are investigated and resolved. A work permit can also allow workers to be eligible for back wages or to have their work restored as a result of enforcement or court proceedings.
Given the current budget constraints of federal labor standards enforcement agencies—which are funded at only one-twelfth of the rate of immigration enforcement agencies—using deferred action in this way would encourage workers and whistleblowers to speak up without fear and be a force multiplier for struggling labor enforcement agencies. from a lack of funding and staff, thus helping it in its mission to protect the rights of workers and hold employers in violation of the law accountable. This will make workplaces safer for all workers.
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