“The presence of immigration officers in state offices could disrupt the enforcement of labor laws”
California’s labor commissioner has told the state’s labor offices to remove federal immigration agents because their presence discourages illegals from reporting labor violations.
California’s top labor law enforcer wants federal immigration agents to stay away from offices where state investigators weigh claims about underpaid employees and workplace retaliation.
Labor Commissioner Julie Su last month directed her staff to turn away Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents unless the federal officers have warrants.
Her directive followed three instances over the past 10 months in which immigration agents sought information about California workers who had filed claims against employers. In two cases, immigration agents attempted to attend hearings where investigators discuss claims with workers and their employers, Su said. In all three cases, the agents left when they were asked, she said.
Su, the state’s labor commissioner since 2011, did not know how the immigration agents learned about the appointments.
Those contacts with immigration officers dovetail with a surge in complaints from California workers about employers threatening to have them deported. Last year, Su’s office in the Department of Industrial Relations investigated 14 complaints from workers who claimed their employers threatened them with immigration enforcement.
So far this year, the department has opened 58 immigration-based retaliation cases, Su said.
She said the presence of immigration officers in state offices could disrupt the enforcement of labor laws by discouraging immigrant workers from reporting employers who short them on wages or unfairly punish them in other ways.
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