‘Today’s Directive is an Important Step in Addressing Worker Exploitation’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by Meredith Stewart, senior supervising attorney with the Immigrant Justice Project, in response to the new Department of Homeland Security memo outlining the agency’s Role in Supporting Enforcement of Employment and Labor Standards.
“For decades, unscrupulous employers have exploited immigrant workers using the threat of deportation. These threats have disproportionately harmed low-wage workers especially in industries known for labor abuses like meat processing and agriculture. Most often, workers are forced to remain silent rather than face immigration-based retaliation by employers or ICE.
“We welcome today’s long-overdue announcement. Worksite raids only serve to terrorize immigrant communities and workers, making them more susceptible to being exploited by employers. Trump-era worksite raids in the deep South targeted meatpacking workers who were victims of wage theft and sexual harassment, lowering standards for all workers in the region. Raids are cruel and unconstitutional, and do not address any real problems associated with the nation’s immigration system.
“By ending worksite enforcement and protecting immigrant whistleblowers, today’s directive is an important step in finally addressing this long pattern of worker exploitation. It is now important that the labor and immigration agencies craft clear and unequivocal guidelines for how immigrant workers can access these protections. The government must also ensure victims of past raids have access to these protections and other relief.”