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SPLC: New Department of Homeland Security Guidance Provides Critical Protections for Immigrant Workers in Labor Disputes

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released new guidance on how immigrant workers involved in labor disputes can seek deferred action and employment authorization from the agency. The announcement follows U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) guidance from July 2022 establishing a process to support immigrant workers’ requests for prosecutorial discretion from DHS. This policy will help protect immigrant workers who expose abusive working conditions.

The following is a statement from Meredith Stewart, senior supervising attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project:

“DHS’s new guidance is an essential step toward protecting immigrant workers who come forward to report abusive working conditions. Far too often, employers use workers’ immigration status to threaten deportation and other retaliatory consequences if they complain about workplace abuse. These threats have a devastating chilling effect on workers’ ability to enforce their rights. Workers in the Deep South face additional risks due to the region’s lack of state-based labor protections. DHS’s guidance is a critical step toward increasing worker protections and ensuring our nation’s labor laws are enforced.  We encourage DHS and DOL to work together to make the implementation of this guidance swift and successful. When immigrant workers can raise complaints and organize without fear of retaliation, labor standards rise for all workers.”