NILC Statement on New DHS Memo on Worksite Enforcement

October 12, 2021

Madison Allman, [email protected], 202-384-1279

NILC Statement on New DHS Memo on Worksite Enforcement

WASHINGTON — Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new memo on worksite enforcement:

“Today’s welcome announcement by the Biden administration signals pivotal changes ahead that will make workplaces across the country safer and more equitable for all workers and finally puts an end to deeply harmful worksite raids. This move will also ensure those immigrants working in schools, factories, meatpacking plants, hospitals, construction sites, and other essential industries can do their jobs safely and speak out against unjust treatment without fearing employer intimidation, arrest, or deportation.

“Worksite raids have devastated entire communities and threatened the safety and wellbeing of all workers. Over the past few years, NILC and our legal partners in the Zelaya v. Hammer case have been fighting in court alongside courageous immigrants whose rights were violated when the previous administration violently raided the Southeastern Provision meat processing plant in 2018. We will remain vigilant to ensure today’s announcement to end similar raids is met with meaningful action.

“All working people, no matter where we were born, have the right to a safe and dignified workplace with fair pay. We look forward to continuing to partner with unions, workers’ rights partners, and the Biden administration to secure critical worker protections that will strengthen labor standards for all workers and create a more just and inclusive immigration system that recognizes the humanity and contributions of all immigrants. We applaud Secretary Mayorkas for taking this transformational step that represents a paradigm shift away from targeting undocumented workers to holding accountable the unscrupulous employers who are the ones responsible for depressing working conditions for all workers. This builds on the important shift included in the enforcement guidelines announced on September 30 which clarify that unlawful presence does not make someone a priority for deportation.”

The Department of Homeland Security today announced an internal review of worksite enforcement policies, signaling a laudable shift away from immigration raids at worksites in favor of creating policies that emphasize employer accountability. Agencies within DHS will also establish processes to prevent employer abuse of E-Verify and to provide affirmative protections to immigrant workers involved in workplace disputes.