Homeland Security Announcement Affirms Protections for Immigrant Workers Reporting Workplace Abuses

Washington, DC—The following is a statement from Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, in response to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security announcement on immigration relief for workers who witness or experience workplace abuse:

“Today, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced new guidance on the agency’s procedures for granting temporary immigration relief and work authorization to immigrant workers who have experienced or witnessed violations of workers’ rights. These essential protections enable immigrant workers to report workplace abuses without fear that employers will use their immigration status to retaliate against them and their communities. NELP welcomes this announcement as a necessary step in reassuring workers and advocates that DHS is putting into action the promises outlined in its October 12, 2021 worksite enforcement memo and prior enforcement memos (here and here).

“This DHS guidance provides necessary details for workers and labor agencies to understand how workers can secure temporary immigration protections while involved in labor disputes, including by providing for centralized application processing and simultaneous application for employment authorization documents. This guidance, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board guidance on immigration relief for workers involved in labor disputes, will make these key protections accessible to more workers across the country.

“This latest DHS announcement is a result of sustained advocacy by workers and advocates demanding respect and dignity in the workplace for all workers. Although NELP recognizes that without comprehensive and just immigration reform, unscrupulous employers will continue to exploit and retaliate against workers based on their immigration status, these DHS procedures are an important step in the right direction. NELP looks forward to working in coalition with workers and advocates to ensure that these procedures are effectively implemented and provide meaningful relief to immigrant whistleblowers who are speaking out and building power to improve workplace conditions.”


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