Washington, D.C. – Jobs With Justice released the following statement in support of the reintroduction of The POWER Act to protect immigrant workers from unscrupulous employers, retaliation in the workplace, and deportation for standing up for their rights. Original co-sponsors of the legislation include Reps. Nanette Barragan (CA-44), Greg Casar (TX-35), Danny Davis (IL-7), Jesús Garcia (IL04), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Jim McGovern (MA-2), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Bobby Scott (VA-3), Dina Titus (NV-1), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-12).
Jobs With Justice Executive Director Erica Smiley said:
“For far too long, unscrupulous employers have gotten away with failing to create a safe workplace, paying their workers a fair wage, and blocking their right to have a unionized workforce. When immigrant workers attempt to raise their voices and stand up for their rights, employers use immigration enforcement as a weapon to squash organizing efforts and trump labor law.
“Today, as part of our ongoing POWER Campaign – initiated a decade ago to defend immigrant workers from Tito Contractors and other abusive employers – Jobs With Justice is proud to endorse the reintroduction of The POWER Act to protect immigrant workers from retaliation and deportation.
“The POWER Act marks a critical step forward in creating safe and just workplaces by providing protection to immigrant workers who experience retaliation for exercising their rights under existing labor and employment laws.”
“The POWER Act stops bad bosses from getting away with undermining the enforcement of labor laws,” said Steven Valencia of Arizona Jobs With Justice. “It also provides a much more humane and workable solution than the mass deportations favored by right-wing politicians. At the cost of untold billions, mass deportations drive immigrant workers further underground and give low-road employers even more power to have unsafe workplaces, pay sub-minimum wage salaries, and depress wages for all workers.”
Reyna Sorto, one of the many Tito Contractor employees illegally fired for sticking their necks out to improve working conditions, added:
“My fellow immigrant coworkers and I chose to fight back against our abusive employer. We were threatened and fired for trying to form a union. We qualified for U-visas because of the severe abuse we suffered but were left vulnerable and fearful for eight long years because of barriers in the system. The POWER Act would mean more workers would be protected when they fight to improve their jobs. When the lowest-paid immigrants’ wages rise, so do everyone else’s. When our conditions improve, it helps to normalize safe working conditions across industries. When the most exploited workers in America organize for a voice on-the-job, every worker in America wins.”
In January, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a process to protect the labor rights of immigrant workers. DHS has previously recognized that immigration should not be a barrier to enforcing workers’ rights. Still, for too many workers, the fundamental tenet that all workers’ rights should be protected regardless of immigration status has not been the reality.
- Expanding U-Visa Eligibility for Workers Suffering Serious Labor Violations.
- Providing Temporary Protection for Victims of Crime and Labor Retaliation.
- Strengthening Labor Agencies’ Investigative Powers.
- Holding Employers Responsible for Labor Law Violations.
- Removing the Caps on U-visas.
The POWER Act was included in the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform legislation that passed the Senate by a 68-32 margin. It was also included in President Biden’s Day One immigration bill that had 153 co-sponsors in the last Congress.