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Improvements announced for labor enforcement investigations

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that noncitizen workers who claim that their rights as employees have been violated can now use a streamlined deferred action request process.

Deferred action is intended to protect workers from threats of immigration-related retaliation from employers.

Workers can visit for additional information in English and Spanish and to submit their requests. According to DHS, these changes are part of advancing the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to improving workplace conditions by enabling all workers, including noncitizens, to assert their legal rights.

“Unscrupulous employers who prey on the vulnerability of noncitizen workers harm all workers and disadvantage businesses who play by the rules,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “We will hold these predatory actors accountable by encouraging all workers to assert their rights, report violations they have suffered or observed, and cooperate in labor standards investigations.”

According to DHS, workers are often afraid to report employers’ legal violations or to cooperate in employment and labor standards investigations because they are worried about removal or other immigration-related retaliation. Agencies tasked with enforcing labor and employment laws depend on the cooperation of these workers in their investigations, DHS said in a statement about the new process.

Centralized intake process

In addition to giving new guidance to labor agencies regarding processes to seek deferred action for certain workers, DHS will provide a single intake point for requests from noncitizen workers that are supported by labor enforcement agencies.

The centralized intake process will allow DHS to efficiently review these time-sensitive requests, provide additional security to eligible workers on a case-by-case basis, and support the mission of labor agencies.

For a long time, DHS has considered requests for deferred action submitted by noncitizen workers who fall within the scope of a labor agency investigation and/or enforcement action.

Now, noncitizens will be able to submit such requests to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through a central intake point established specifically to support labor agency investigative and enforcement efforts.

For deferred action requests from noncitizens who are in removal proceedings or have a final order of removal, upon reviewing the submission for completeness USCIS will forward such requests to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to make a final determination on a case-by-case basis. USCIS will consider all other deferred action requests on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to satisfying individual criteria to facilitate case-by-case determinations, requests for deferred action submitted through this centralized process must include a letter from a federal, state, or local labor agency asking DHS to consider exercising its discretion on behalf of workers employed by companies identified by the agency as having labor disputes related to laws that fall under its jurisdiction.