Legislation Immigrants

House Democrats introduce bill on immigrant worker safety

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Photo: Susan Chiang/iStockphoto

Washington – Immigrant workers who report unsafe or unfair work practices would become eligible for a type of visa reserved for victims of criminal activity, under legislation recently reintroduced by House Democrats.

Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) on Nov. 16 introduced the Protecting Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation Act (H.R. 4008). The bill would provide immigrant workers who report labor law violations with a path to obtain a U non-immigrant visa. This visa protects individuals from deportation if they have suffered mental or physical abuse due to a particular crime, and are willing to provide information to law enforcement officials about that crime.

“Threat of deportation or other retaliation should not be an available tool to employers for the purpose of intimidating or coercing workers exercising their rights,” Scott said in a press release. “This bill represents an important step forward in making sure that workers can fully realize their rights on the job and not have to live in fear while trying to make a living.”

The POWER Act has been introduced in previous Congresses, but has not made it to the president’s desk.