WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), and First Vice Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) made the following statement today after news broke that immigrants across the country are refusing to accept back pay they are owed for fear of being deported. Through existing policies the Department of Labor is mandated to track down workers who have left jobs but are owed wages stemming from an agency investigation. However, recent reports indicate that immigrants are refusing to collect the money or provide an address to receive a check.
“Reports that workers across the country are refusing back pay because they fear deportation are clear signs of the chilling effect of President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. We now have a situation where the federal government’s own efforts to protect against wage theft are being undermined by the fear that Trump has sown. Two things are clear: these workers should be paid in full for their labor, and they should not face the threat of deportation in the process.
“The Departments of Labor and Homeland Security entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on this issue in 2011 for good reason—to protect against immigration enforcement interference during ongoing labor disputes. The MOU explicitly defines the right to be paid the correct wages and overtime pay regardless of immigration status. We urge the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security to remain committed to this position, and we urge President Trump to end his assault on immigrant communities before this alarming trend grows.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest caucus within the House Democratic Caucus, with over 70 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and promote civil liberties. The CPC champions progressive policy solutions like comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 national minimum wage, fair trade, gun violence reform, debt-free college, and making the federal government a Model Employer.