Representatives Judy Chu and George Miller today sent a letter signed by over 50 Members of Congress to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson welcoming executive action to fix our broken immigration system and offering recommendations for policies needed to protect immigrant workers.
Reps. Chu and Miller released the following statements:
"We depend on immigrant workers in almost every sector of our economy. Yet abuse is rampant since this group of disproportionately low-wage workers are often afraid to speak out against illegal workplace violations fearing that immigration enforcement and deportation will be used as retaliation by employers," said Rep. Chu. "We are encouraged that President Obama has accepted Secretary Johnson's recommendations for executive action, but we must make sure that the changes to our broken immigration system include protections that ensure immigrant workers are can assert their labor and civil rights free from retaliation."
"We can't allow the inaction of this Congress on comprehensive immigration reform to continue to put millions of workers at risk in the workplace. Over eight million undocumented immigrant workers live in the U.S. and are an integral part of our workforce and our economy. They work hard, day in and day out, to support their families--to pay the rent, put food on the table and make ends meet," said Rep. Miller. "We must do everything possible to ensure that undocumented workers are not denied fundamental labor rights based on their immigration status. Exploitation of these workers hurts all workers."
Many undocumented workers fear reporting workplace abuse because it can lead to their deportation and separation from their family. Citing a number of stories of labor violations and abuse, the letter to Secretary Johnson calls attention to troubling statistics that show 76% of undocumented workers have worked off the clock, 84% have received less than the legally-required overtime rate, and 37% had received less than the minimum wage. These numbers show that immigrant workers' vulnerability and silence result in employer immunity for workplace violations.