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Reps. Grijalva & Castro: DOL's New Guidance on U and T Visas will Silence Vulnerable Immigrant Workers

TUCSON—Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) and Raul M. Grijalva led 21 Members of Congress in a letter to Administrator Cheryl Stanton of the Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor urging her to end new guidance issued by the department that would create unnecessary hurdles for immigrant workers who are seeking protections from human trafficking and other workplace abuses. U and T visas were created under the bipartisan Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act to provide protections to undocumented immigrants who cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes.

“By needlessly complicating the process for individuals seeking critical visas, the Department of Labor is targeting already vulnerable members of our communities. With troublesome barriers in their way, immigrant workers seeking protection from abuse and human trafficking will be silenced and forced into the shadows. Not only are U and T visas a lifeline for victims, but also the process affords an integral tool for law enforcement working to fight crime,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees. “Already marginalized, these immigrant workers will experience further fear and may be exposed to additional harm. The Department of Labor must act swiftly to overturn this dangerous and discriminatory guidance. Lives depend on it.” 

“Erecting cumbersome barriers for workers is a slap in the face to the millions of workers who drive our economy each day,” said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva. “It’s clear no matter where the Trump Administration’s xenophobic agenda is implemented, it’s puts immigrants in danger. The Labor Department must reverse this decision and provide immigrant workers with the security they need to report crimes in the workplace.”

Criminal law enforcement agencies rely on the Department of Labor’s protocols and guidelines to ensure that cases alleging criminal wrongdoing are handled with the proper care and attention they deserve. Under the Department’s new guidance, the agency will refer cases involving potential trafficking and qualifying criminal activity to criminal law enforcement and generally require that law enforcement agencies agree with their assessment of potential crimes before the Department issues a certification—leaving them vulnerable to deportation.

Read the full text of the letter HERE.

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