Protecting Rights of All Workers Critical to Obama’s Action on Immigration

Categories: Immigration, News

On June 30, President Obama announced that his administration would take executive action to reform the current, broken immigration system, charging Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder with moving resources to the border and identifying – before the end of the summer – additional actions that his administration can take.

Since administrative changes could have far-reaching implications for millions of immigrant families, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is calling on the president to include certain reforms in any action he takes – including protecting the rights of all workers.

Many immigrant workers are exploited as cheap labor, only to have their employers turn them over to immigration authorities when they stand up for fair pay or safer conditions. This hurts immigrant and native-born workers alike. The administration should swiftly move to protect immigrant workers involved in labor or civil rights disputes, and should prevent employers from using immigration laws to retaliate against workers.

Specifically, the administration should do more to ensure that immigrants involved in labor and civil rights cases can get immediate immigration status and work authorization; prohibit civil immigration or criminal arrests of workers in the context of workplace enforcement actions; look into labor and civil rights complaints before enforcing I-9 or other worksite policies; and keep employers from abusing the I-9 or E-Verify procedures to violate workers’ rights.

Obama’s announcement on June 30 came more than a year after the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill (S. 744), which House leadership has refused to bring up for a vote. More than a month earlier, The Leadership Conference sent a letter to Obama outlining steps he should take on his own regardless of the Senate bill’s fate in the House.

This is the fourth in a series of four articles detailing what The Leadership Conference wants to see in President Obama’s executive action on immigration, due out later this summer.