The US DHS recently introduced new policies aimed at protecting undocumented immigrant workers who participate in investigations of abusive employers. These workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse, including wage theft, unpaid overtime, safety violations, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination, as they often fear reporting their employers for fear of retaliation or deportation.
The new guidelines allow undocumented workers to apply for Deferred Action, a temporary status with work authorization, if they have been subjected to or are participating in an investigation of labor law violations by their employer. This will provide them with legal protection and prevent them from being deported.
Employers are prohibited from hiring workers without valid work authorization, but many companies still do so to pay lower wages, violating US immigration laws. The DHS policy change aims to hold these companies accountable by encouraging workers to report violations without fear of immigration consequences. The Secretary of Homeland Security has stated that the new procedure will prioritize holding companies accountable for taking advantage of noncitizen workers.
In addition to Deferred Action, workers who are eligible may also be able to obtain T-Visas with proper representation. The policy change is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to support immigrant workers and promote fair and safe working conditions. The DHS has also announced it will no longer conduct workplace raids targeting illegal workers and will instead focus on pursuing unethical companies.