In late 2021, the Biden administration announced initiatives to revise its worksite enforcement protocols and shift enforcement priorities. See Sept. 30, 2021 memo titled “Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law.” This memo was meant to provide guidance regarding the apprehension and removal of non-citizens. Read more here: DHS Releases Worksite Enforcement Strategy to Protect the American Labor Market, Workers, and Worksite Conditions. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) were instructed to assess current worksite enforcement guidance within their agencies, provide a report on such guidance, and then work with DHS to synthesize the policies to align with the shift in enforcement priorities.
On Jan. 13, 2023, DHS announced additional guidance and protocols related to protecting workers involved in worksite investigations. See DHS Announces Process Enhancements for Supporting Labor Enforcement Investigations. DHS plans to provide protections for workers who cooperate in investigating alleged workplace violations and exploitation. This protection will be available to vulnerable workers who are working with an employer who is already under investigation. Employees in vulnerable immigration status will be eligible for deferred action and work authorization.
This is part of a Biden administration effort to target bad actor or unscrupulous employers that allegedly exploit undocumented workers. This announcement establishes steps to protect unauthorized workers who witness or are victims of labor abuse, including granting them temporary legal status, through deferred action, continued presence, parole, and other available relief for noncitizens who are witnesses to, or victims of, abusive and exploitive labor practices.