From: The Honorable Judy Chu
Sent By: joleen.rivera@mail.house.gov
Date: 6/30/2014

Support Stronger Protections for Immigrant Workers; Ensure Worksite Enforcement does not undermine Labor and Civil Rights. 

Urge Sec. Johnson in his review of immigration enforcement policies, to take greater administrative action to protect immigrant workers who assert their labor and civil rights in the workplace.

Current Cosigners: Reps. Chu, Miller, Holt, Takano, Grijalva, Rangel, Polis, McGovern, Lewis, Lee, Schakowsky, Gutierrez, McDermott, Holmes-Norton, Veasey

DEADLINE: Wednesday, July 2nd COB

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in urging Sec. Johnson to build upon existing policies and create stronger protections for immigrant workers who assert their labor and civil rights in the workplace. Addressing the needs of immigrant workers is an urgent matter as Congress continues to work on securing a permanent legislative solution through comprehensive immigration reform.

Over 8 million undocumented immigrant workers live in the U.S. and play an integral role in our workforce. They are the farmworkers who put food on our tables, the domestic workers who care for our children and the elderly, and the workers vital to our manufacturing, food processing, hospitality, and service industries. While they have a presence in a wide variety of sectors of the U.S economy, they disproportionately hold low-wage jobs that leave them vulnerable to abuse.

With the entry of immigration enforcement into the workplace, there has been an increasing disconnect between workplace rights that exist on paper and the ability of undocumented workers to exercise those rights. Although most of our nation’s employment and labor laws extend to all employees regardless of immigration status, undocumented workers remain vulnerable to exploitative employers who use their lack of status as a means of retaliation.

The recommendations below, if implemented together, would be a constructive step forward and allow immigrant workers to realize their basic employment rights:

  • DHS should strengthen its 2011 “Prosecutorial Discretion: Certain Victims, Witnesses, and Plaintiffs Memorandum” and allow immigrants defending labor and civil rights to apply for deferred action before the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • DHS should revise its internal operating instructions regarding enforcement of immigration laws in the workplace to ensure workplace enforcement actions do not interfere with workers’ rights, and reaffirm that non-interference in labor disputes is current agency policy.
  • DHS should clarify and work with the Department of Labor (DOL) to better enforce employers’ misuse of electronic verification.
  • DHS should expand its list of sensitive locations for which enforcement actions require prior approval to include workplaces during labor disputes, as well as state and federal courthouses and administrative agencies and locations where proceedings related to a pending court case or administrative complaint are taking place.
  • DHS should adopt non-retaliation policies that prohibit deportations based on arrests that are unconstitutional or violate ICE’s own guidelines.

We hope you will join us in urging Secretary Johnson to include review of its labor and workplace policies in the ongoing immigration enforcement review. Please contact Joleen Rivera at Joleen.Rivera@mail.house.gov for more information or to sign the letter. By COB Wednesday, July 2nd.

Sincerely,

Judy Chu                                 George Miller

Member of Congress               Member of Congress

Rush Holt                                Mark Takano

Member of Congress               Member of Congress

Raul Grijalva

Member of Congress

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