WASHINGTON, DC --
The U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) today
published a new
memorandum of understanding (MOU)
between the departments to better protect the rights of immigrant
workers while on the job. The agreement, which had not been
updated since 1998, represents an initial step to minimize retaliation
against immigrant workers. Below is a statement from Marielena
Hincapiť, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:
“Today, the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security took an important
first step toward protecting all workers’ labor rights by agreeing that
labor law is not to be held hostage by our broken immigration system.
The agreement issued today between DOL and DHS provides much-needed
guidance to prevent abusive employers from manipulating DHS to rid
themselves of workers who assert their rights.
“DHS has finally agreed to refrain from deporting immigrant workers
involved in a pending DOL investigation into labor disputes. This
is a critical step to ensure that labor law is adequately enforced.
For far too long, these bad-apple employers have relied upon
heavy-handed immigration enforcement to exploit immigrant workers,
thereby putting all workers’ rights at risk.
“Although this agreement is important, it is overshadowed by the Obama
administration’s priorities of deporting these workers at a record pace,
wreaking economic and societal havoc on immigrant communities in the
process. At a minimum, DHS should swiftly enter into similar
agreements with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the
National Labor Relations Board, and other labor agencies. Unless
multiagency MOUs are put in place and enforced, unscrupulous employers
will continue to exploit loopholes between DHS and agencies charged with
upholding our labor and civil rights. Separating families and
deporting workers in record numbers is not the solution.
Strengthening and enforcing our labor laws will go much further to
protect America’s working families.”