IMMIGRATION AND LABOR ENFORCEMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
The Revised Labor Agency–DHS Memorandum of Understanding
By National Employment Law Project and National Immigration Law Center
The Updated Memorandum of Understanding
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) entered into a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure that the two agencies’ worksite‐based enforcement activities do not conflict. The 2011 MOU updated a 1998 MOU that was entered into between DOL and the then–Immigration and Naturalization Service. In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) joined the agreement in an addendum to the original MOU. Under the Revised MOU, DHS agrees to refrain from engaging in civil worksite enforcement at worksites that are the subject of investigations by not only the DOL but also the EEOC and the NLRB (collectively, the “labor agencies”).
What Is the Purpose of the MOU?
The 2011 MOU between DOL and DHS (DOL-DHS MOU) and the 2016 addendum adding EEOC and NLRB (Labor Agency-DHS MOU) reiterate the national policy goal that immigration enforcement will not interfere with employment and labor rights enforcement in the workplace. To achieve this goal, the MOU establishes a process for the named agencies to coordinate their workplace enforcement activities with one another. First, the MOU limits the worksite enforcement power of DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) when an investigation by DOL, EEOC, or NLRB is pending, and requires the relevant labor agency to provide ICE with sufficient information to allow for the identification of overlapping enforcement activity.Second, it outlines the agencies’ shared commitment to protecting workers against retaliation and intimidation by employers and other parties who use threats of immigration enforcement.
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