The Department of Homeland Security announced that noncitizen workers who witness labor violations can now report the violations without fear of their immigration status being held against them. DHS will continue to use the authority from deferred action, which gives non-citizens the ability to work in the U.S., according to the agency. Deferred action provides protection to noncitizen workers from threats of immigration-related retaliation from exploitative employers. DHS said that noncitizen workers often do not report labor violations due to fear of removal or other immigration-related retaliation. The process for obtaining deferred action for being the victim of a labor violation is similar to the process for seeking a U Visa for victims of a serious crime. To become eligible for deferred action, a worker will have to 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.
If this new process is successful, it will create an administrative equivalent of the U Visa but for labor violations. However, Congress authorized the U Visa process, and it provides a long-term path to permanent legal status. This is a step in the right direction toward protecting immigrant workers and the U.S. economy.