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Office of the
Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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July 02, 2024

Program Protects Noncitizen Victims and Witnesses of Labor Violations from Deportation 

Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul, with Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell and the Seattle Office of Labor Standards, today led a coalition of 26 state attorneys general and labor enforcement agencies in calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to extend the Deferred Action Program protection period for noncitizen victims and witnesses in labor enforcement investigations from the current two years to a minimum of four years.   

The letter Raoul and the coalition sent to DHS explains the program has enabled labor enforcement agencies conducting investigations into labor violations to secure cooperation from noncitizen victims and witnesses by lessening workers’ fear of deportation. However, due to the often-complex nature of such investigations, cases often extend beyond two years before enforcement is completed. 

“Noncitizen workers have a right to safe and fair treatment in the workplace and should not fear deportation if they are part of a labor violation investigation,” Raoul said. “I urge the Department of Homeland Security to extend the Deferred Action Program protection period in order to ensure investigations result in employers being held accountable if they violate labor laws. I am proud to lead this diverse coalition in defending the rights and dignity of all workers.” 

Noncitizen workers are disproportionately employed in low-wage and high-turnover industries. These workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by employers who violate their rights with illegal practices such as paying below the applicable minimum wage, failing to pay workers all their wages, delaying their wages, refusing to pay overtime, or failing to provide workers compensation coverage. 

In the brief, Raoul and the coalition said extending the deferred action protection period from two years to four is necessary to make noncitizen workers less vulnerable to the fear of deportation. The extension would also help law enforcement agencies successfully complete investigations and other enforcement actions to seek justice in benefitting those impacted by labor rights violations, including all employees, as well as employers who play by the rules.   

Joining Raoul, Campbell and the Seattle Office of Labor Standards in filing the letter are attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, the California Department of Industrial Relations – Department of Occupational Safety and Health, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the Denver Labor Auditor’s Office, the Los Angeles County Office of Labor Equity, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, and the Office of the New York City Comptroller.