POWER ACT Would Strengthen Immigrant Worker Power & Raise Workplace Standards for All Workers

Washington, DC—The National Employment Law Project commends Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) for reintroducing the Protecting Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act today. This legislation would enact legal protections to ensure that immigrant workers can assert their workplace rights without fear of employers retaliating against them by reporting them to immigration authorities. In doing so, the POWER Act would make significant strides in building immigrant workers’ power to organize for better working conditions and enhance government agencies’ ability to effectively enforce the United States’ workplace laws.

The POWER Act would ensure that immigrant workers can assert their workplace rights without fear of immigration-based retaliation by their employers.

Among other provisions, the POWER Act would expand U visa eligibility to workers who report serious labor and employment rights violations to local, state, or federal agencies and have met certain other conditions in relation to those claims. The Act would also strengthen the type of temporary immigration relief and work authorization that is currently available under the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) January 2023 guidelines for immigrant workers who report or are witnesses to pending workplace claims.

Following is a statement from Rebecca Dixon, President and CEO of the National Employment Law Project:

“The POWER Act is essential to the effective enforcement of workplace laws for all workers, regardless of their immigration status. We know all too well that unscrupulous employers use the threat of immigration enforcement to quell workplace complaints and exploit immigrant workers, the majority of whom are workers of color. This threat looms large in a system that spends nearly 12 times as much on immigration enforcement in comparison to labor standards enforcement. Immigration-related retaliation, and this fundamental structural imbalance, harms labor and employment standards for all workers.

DHS’s recent guidelines are an important step in protecting immigrant workers and enhancing labor agencies’ enforcement tools. By strengthening these and making broader additional protections available, the POWER Act would safeguard immigrant workers who hold abusive employers accountable, to the benefit of all workers and our communities.”

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