Deferred Action for Workers in Labor Disputes
On January 13, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new guidance that clarifies the process by which workers asserting their rights against abusive employers can access temporary immigration protections, including work authorization and protection from deportation in the form of “deferred action.” In conjunction with companion policies announced in November 2021 by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), July 2022 by the Department of Labor (DOL), and March 2023 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), this policy shift is a huge step forward in ensuring that immigrant workers can be protected from deportation and receive work authorization when speaking up about labor violations.
The guidance is also significant because DHS is using prosecutorial discretion to support the enforcement of labor and employment laws. In so doing, DHS is taking an affirmative role in righting the power imbalance between workers and employers. This new process will make it easier for immigrant workers to organize unions, file complaints with labor standards enforcement agencies, and build power together — without the fear of deportation hanging over their heads.
Our Rights, Our Work, Our Home
The National Immigration Law Center has launched a campaign to ensure that this deferred action protection is successfully implemented and that all workers are empowered to fight against egregious labor violations and organize collectively to improve working conditions.
NILC is working in collaboration with a diverse range of partners and advocating directly with government agencies to ensure that as many workers as possible can benefit from these new protections and leverage them to build the power of workers. NILC will also maximize the impact of this new policy guidance by uplifting the stories of directly impacted workers.
This page provides information on what the DHS guidance means, resources on how to apply for deferred action, ongoing advocacy efforts, and ways to get involved.
Last updated July 2023
- NEW: Toolkit: Immigration Legal Clinics for Labor-Based Deferred Action
- NEW: Building Immigration Legal Capacity for Labor-Based Deferred Action: Models & Strategies (chart)
- Our Rights, Our Work, Our Home: Deferred Action for Workers In Labor Disputes (Two-pager)
- NILC Guide to DHS Guidance Regarding Prosecutorial Discretion for Workers with Labor Disputes, issued in January 2023
- Community-facing FAQ for Workers about the January 2023 DHS Guidance, co-authored with NIPNLG
- NILC Guide to DOL’s FAQs Regarding Prosecutorial Discretion for Workers during Labor Disputes, issued in July 2022
- NILC FAQ on DHS worksite enforcement memo, issued in October 2021
- Immigration Practitioner’s Manual for Filing Prosecutorial Discretion Requests for Workers During Labor Disputes
- Two Years After Deadly Nitrogen Leak at Georgia Poultry Plant, A Big Step Forward to Protect Immigrant Workers Reporting Labor Abuses (joint blog with Sur Legal Collaborative)
If you are looking for more information, email us at [email protected].
- “Implementing Deferred Action for Workers in Labor Disputes: Nuts & Bolts on How to File a Request” (joint webinar with Ready to Stay, National Partnership for New Americans, Immigration Advocates Network, UFW Foundation, and Legal Aid Chicago)
- This recording is free to members of Immigration Advocates Network. To join, see here.
- “Implementing the DHS New Deferred Action Guidance for Immigrant Workers Engaged in Labor Disputes: An Important Tool for Advancing Workers’ Rights” (joint webinar with Sur Legal Collaborative and Raise the Floor Alliance)
- This 1 hour CLE training is available from the Practicing Law Institute (PLI) for $25; PLI offers this training free of charge to pro bono members.
NILC’s statement on the Guidance issued by the DHS on Jan 13, 2023
NILC’s statement about the November 2022 Letter signed by 330 organizations urging DHS to announce guidance for Prosecutorial Discretion for Workers in Labor Disputes
NILC’s statement about the DOL’s FAQ issued on July 2022