AFL-CIO Calls on Mayorkas to Protect Immigrant Workers

AFL-CIO Calls on Mayorkas to Protect Immigrant Workers

New York, NY – September 10, 2021: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during 911 security briefing at One Police Plaza. (Shutterstock)

The Biden administration has made a historic commitment to support worker organizing and empowerment. To live up to that pledge, there are concrete steps the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can and must take today. Specifically, we call on you to:

Protect Immigrant Workers Who Take Action to Make Our Workplaces Safe and Fair. All too often, the threat of immigration enforcement is used as a weapon to crush worker organizing and chill the exercise of basic workplace rights. When immigrant workers are scared into silence, violations go unchecked—and that makes us all less safe at work. DHS should establish a streamlined process for undocumented workers and guest workers who are engaged in labor disputes to request and obtain temporary immigration status and work authorization so they can engage in protected activity and vindicate their rights.

Announce Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Designations for All Eligible Countries. TPS is a critical tool to provide immediate and urgently needed relief to working families from countries destabilized by conflict or disasters. We welcome recent designations for Afghanistan, Cameroon and Ukraine, and note that many other countries in our region and around the world also meet the statutory requirements, including Ethiopia, Mauritania, and the hurricane-affected countries of Central America. Extending TPS protections helps to support our fight for worker justice at home and abroad.

The labor movement will continue to demand reforms that help lift standards and rights for all workers, with no exclusions. This is why we are calling you to use these important tools to ensure rights and protections for immigrants who are vital members of our workforce, our unions and our communities.

Immigrants and refugees have always helped to build, serve and feed our nation, and we will not allow them to be treated as a second class of exploitable workers. We ask DHS to take action today to help us tear down barriers to worker organizing and empowerment so that all working people in our country can live and work safely and with dignity.

Across the country, we are seeing a great resurgence in worker organizing. Workers are striking in record numbers and winning uphill battles against corporate giants. To keep this momentum going, we must continue to rise up and demand changes that will lift standards and rights for all workers, with no exclusions. All working people—regardless of immigration status—must have the right to organize for living wages, safe work conditions and dignity on the job without fear of retaliation.

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