Rights of illegal immigrants protected in workplace
|August 15, 2002||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Humanity versus Man-Made Borders
Rights of ‘Illegal’ Immigrants Protected in Workplace
Publisher’s note — if you cross a border, have you abandoned all your civil rights? Can an illegal immigrant be a human yet have no human rights? In a recent article in the Arizona Republic, Andrew Buchanan reported on a recent step forward in government’s understanding of human rights. Here are some excerpts.
Illegal immigrants, long with little recourse against workplace discrimination or harassment, will no longer have abuse claims hampered by a lack of citizenship, federal officials say.
“If you violate civil rights laws and you discriminate against undocumented workers, we will apply the full force of the law,” Ida Castro, chairwoman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said Tuesday. Previously, the commission’s role was limited in cases of “illegal workers.” But EEOC officials announced the agency will no longer consider citizenship status in seeking redress from employers who discriminate.
Under the new rule, illegal workers could get back pay, be reinstated to their jobs if they were unfairly fired and ask the courts to force the employers to pay damages and attorney’s fees if discrimination is proved.
Castro said undocumented workers “are especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” and often have few resources when abused. The workers are often paid below the minimum wage, see their paychecks withheld, and are discriminated against based on their ethnicity and language, according to immigrant rights groups.
“We shouldn’t enforce immigration laws; that’s not our job,” said EEOC Vice Chairman Paul Igasaki. “What we do is discrimination enforcement. The only way we can do that effectively is try to put that umbrella over everybody.”
Don Mueller, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said the agency supports the policy. “For us, anything that’s going to protect workers’ rights we’re going to support,” he said. “Our public enemies are the smugglers and employers who exploit these people.”
Anti-freedom of immigration groups opposed the rule.
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