The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has unveiled a new expedited deferred action request process for noncitizen workers who have experienced labor rights violations or have information about such violations. This initiative offers protection to these workers against immigration-related retaliation by exploitative employers. The new process, effective immediately, builds on the existing practice of DHS to consider labor and employment agency-related deferred action requests on a case-by-case basis. Workers can visit DHS.gov for more information in both English and Spanish and to submit their requests.
This development supports the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to bolster workers' rights and enhance working conditions by allowing all workers, including noncitizens, to assert their legal rights. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas emphasized the importance of holding exploitative employers accountable for harming both workers and businesses that follow the rules.
Noncitizen workers often refrain from reporting labor violations or cooperating with labor and employment standards investigations due to the fear of retaliation from their employers. These agencies rely on the cooperation of workers to enforce labor and employment laws. The new process encourages workers to come forward without fear, thus improving labor market conditions and upholding workers' rights.
To streamline this process and enhance workplace conditions for all workers, DHS is taking action in line with the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, strengthening protections for workers and safeguarding their legal rights. This initiative also provides guidance to labor agencies on deferred action processes for certain workers and establishes a central intake point for deferred action requests supported by labor enforcement agencies. This centralized intake process will allow DHS to review these requests efficiently, provide security on a case-by-case basis, and better support the mission of labor agencies.
DHS has a long history of considering deferred action requests submitted by noncitizen workers who are part of labor agency investigations. The centralized process will be coordinated through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and will expedite the processing of deferred action and related employment authorization applications, reducing the potential risks to workers involved in labor disputes under investigation and minimizing employer retaliation. Requests for deferred action through this process should include a Statement of Interest from a labor agency asking DHS to exercise discretion on behalf of affected workers. This initiative aims to ensure the protection and rights of workers and is in line with DHS's commitment to supporting labor agencies in enforcing workplace safety, labor rights, and other labor-related laws and standards.