Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers

Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers
© Stefani Reynolds

A bicameral group of Democrats led by Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezForeign Relations Democrat calls on Iran to release other American prisoners GOP senator blocks Armenian genocide resolution The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' MORE (D-N.J.) introduced a bill Wednesday to protect immigrant workers who file labor claims against their employers.

The bill, dubbed the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation Act, would expand a visa program targeted toward victims and whistleblowers, and provide protection from deportation for workers involved in a labor dispute.

“As the Trump Administration continues their attacks on immigrant communities, vulnerable immigrant workers who experience unsafe working conditions or fear retaliation by their abusive employers need to be protected by law,” said Menendez in a statement.

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“Our legislation will help ensure workers have a path to report unlawful or unfair labor practices and that they don’t fall through the cracks of a broken immigration system just because they stand up for their rights," he added.

The bill would expand the U visa program by removing the 10,000 visa per year cap and lowering application expenses and adding victims of serious labor violations to the program's eligibility list.

The U visa grants the right to work and live in the United States to some victims of crimes such as domestic violence, rape, abusive sexual contact, abduction, blackmail and felony assault.

Under Menedez's bill, state, local and federal agencies would also be empowered to apply to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant temporary legal immigration status to undocumented immigrants who have filed a labor claim or are material witnesses in a claim.

It would also force DHS agencies that conduct immigration raids on workplaces to involve labor authorities before deporting any detainees, in order to determine whether labor rights were infringed by employers.

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Rep. Judy ChuJudy May ChuHillicon Valley: FCC moves against Huawei, ZTE | Dem groups ask Google to reconsider ads policy | Bill introduced to increase data access during probes Dems call out Oracle for lack of diversity on its board Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers MORE (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said, “immigrants make up 17.4 percent of the labor force in the United States and are important contributors in the healthcare, manufacturing, construction and agriculture industries."

"But, despite how much we depend on immigrants, some unscrupulous employers seek to exploit them, making them work extreme hours in difficult and dangerous conditions. They do this knowing that, being undocumented, the workers will be too afraid to report this abuse to the authorities," she added.

The bill has so far received significant support from labor unions, whose role in the immigration debate has grown on par with the demographic diversification of their affiliate pools.

"Our system relies on workers to take action to keep workplaces safe and fair, but it takes real courage to come forward because the risks are so great,” said Shannon Lederer, director of immigration policy for the AFL-CIO.

Menendez was joined on the legislation in the House by Chu and Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices Democrats press Trump officials over drop in ObamaCare signups amid website problems MORE (D-Va.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash MORE (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoDemocrats challenge South Carolina law requiring voters to disclose Social Security numbers Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers House and Senate Dems implore McConnell to sign DACA legislation to protect 'Dreamers' MORE (D-Nev.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire MORE (I-Vt.) and Reps. Grace NapolitanoGraciela (Grace) Flores NapolitanoBicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Muller testimony dominates Washington MORE (D-Calif.), Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers Lawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms MORE (D-Calif.), Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaHillicon Valley: Senators ask Trump to halt Huawei licenses | Warren criticizes Zuckerberg over secret dinner with Trump | Senior DHS cyber official to leave | Dems offer bill on Libra oversight On The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns Lawmakers introduce bill to 'protect' consumers from Facebook's digital currency MORE (D-Texas), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinLawmakers to watch during Wednesday's impeachment hearing Pelosi faces tough choices on impeachment managers Five questions looming over impeachment MORE (D-Md.), David TroneDavid John TroneBicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Buttigieg targets Warren, Sanders on health care ahead of debate | Judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections | Poll sees support drop for 'Medicare for All' Maryland lawmakers slam 'despicable' Trump remark about journalists on newsroom shooting anniversary MORE (D-Md.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills Hillicon Valley: FTC rules Cambridge Analytica engaged in 'deceptive practices' | NATO researchers warn social media failing to remove fake accounts | Sanders calls for breaking up Comcast, Verizon House Democrat presses Google executives for answers on handling of health data MORE (D-Wash.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), and Washington, D.C., Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonBicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers Overnight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle Maloney wins vote for Oversight chairwoman MORE (D).