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Reps. Chu, Scott Introduce Bill to Protect Immigrant Workers

November 5, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) introduced the Protecting Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act. This legislation will provide U Visa eligibility for immigrant workers who report unsafe or unfair labor practices. The bill will also strengthen labor agencies’ investigative powers and allow a stay of removal and work authorization for workers who file a workplace claim. These reforms will provide all workers with the assurance that they can speak up against illegal business practices without fear of retaliation. The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Bobby Scott (VA-03), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Charles Rangel (NY-13), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), and David Cicilline (RI-01). Reps. Chu and Bobby Scott, the Ranking Member on the Committee on Education and the Workforce and a lead cosponsor of the bill, released the following statements:

“Immigrants often work some of the most dangerous jobs. But if they try to organize for fair pay or decent working conditions, they can face threats of abuse, harassment, or even deportation from unscrupulous employers. This is just wrong. When they report bad actors, they are taking a brave step that should be rewarded, not punished,” said Rep. Chu. “The law is clear: all workers, no matter who they are, deserve to be treated fairly and to do their jobs in safety. That is a bedrock American principle and one I am proud to uphold with this bill. All workers should know they can exercise their labor rights without the fear of being deported, and I will keep fighting to make this a reality.”

“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,” said Rep. Scott. “The POWER Act will strengthen worker protections for both American and immigrant workers, and help ensure that unscrupulous employers are brought to justice for labor violations. 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.”

Chu first introduced the POWER Act in the 112th Congress. In the 113th Congress, the bill was included in S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed by a vote of 68-32. Chu worked with the Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group of Senators negotiating comprehensive immigration reform, to ensure immigrants’ civil, immigration, and labor laws would be protected in the legislation.

A text of the bill can be found here.

A summary of the bill can be found here.

This bill is endorsed by the organizations listed here.