Many immigrants in California hesitate to expose their employers who have committed labor violations because they fear deportation. They no longer need to fear such retribution as a new Department of Homeland Security policy indicates that any immigrant who comes forward to report abuses will not undergo deportation from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
New process expands on other immigrant protections
The new process, announced in January 2022, indicates that immigrants can receive deferred action, allowing them to temporarily remain in the United States legally and may also apply for formal work authorization. This process builds on other immigrant worker-friendly policies, including ordering DHS to half large worksite raids and focusing its efforts on targeting questionable employers. These efforts undermine efforts by the anti-immigrant right by offering workers a clear benefit to report labor violations. It will also protect all workers who may be affected by aligning the interests of immigrants and native workers.
How does deferred action work?
This process is similar to that for those seeking a U Visa for immigration and naturalization if they have been victims of a serious crime. The worker must first report the violation to the Department of Labor (DOL), National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or any state or local labor agency. The worker must also submit a “Statement of Interest” expressing that the agency believes the worker has cooperated with the labor agency in the investigation and deserves protection.
Many creative ways exist for immigrants to turn an illegal status into a legal one, including looking at their work history. If you are worried about legally staying in the United States, this new ICE policy could provide the ideal route. Finding a legal way is your best chance of getting a green card.