Depts. of Labor & Homeland Security Issue MOU

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; [email protected]

After Years of Talk, Finally Some Action

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 Hincapié, 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.”

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