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) MenendezKasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage 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 ChuDHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Hispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Lawmakers of color blast Trump administration for reportedly instructing agencies to end anti-bias training 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 ScottHouse passes bill to allow private lawsuits against public schools for discriminatory practices Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief This week: House returns for pre-election sprint MORE (D-Va.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into allegations of medical neglect at Georgia ICE facility Black Voters Matter Fund deploying voter outreach caravans in 12 states to drive turnout MORE (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoVA problems raise worries about mail slowdown, prescriptions Cortez Masto touts mail-in voting in convention speech Vulnerable Senate Democrat urges unity: 'Not about what side of the aisle we're on' MORE (D-Nev.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersMcConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security The Hill's Campaign Report: Arizona shifts towards Biden | Biden prepares for drive-in town hall | New Biden ad targets Latino voters Why Democrats must confront extreme left wing incitement to violence MORE (I-Vt.) and Reps. Grace NapolitanoGraciela (Grace) Flores NapolitanoHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs Hispanic Caucus asks Trump to rescind invitation to Mexican president MORE (D-Calif.), Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Democrats may bring DHS bill to House floor Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities MORE (D-Calif.), Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs MORE (D-Texas), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Trump payroll-tax deferral for federal workers sparks backlash Congress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe MORE (D-Md.), David TroneDavid John TroneUS Chamber of Commerce set to endorse 23 House freshman Democrats Preventing the opioid epidemic from getting worse requires attacking it at the source Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers MORE (D-Md.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Progressive Caucus co-chair: Whistleblower complaint raises questions about 'entire detention system' Buttigieg, former officials added to Biden's transition team MORE (D-Wash.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), and Washington, D.C., Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' DeJoy defends Postal Service changes at combative House hearing DC delegate highlights effects of Postal Service quagmire on community MORE (D).