New York labor officials have adopted new measures meant to protect undocumented immigrants against retaliatory actions and removal due to labor disputes, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced.
The provisions are an expansion of rules put in place earlier in the year by President Joe Biden's administration. The state Department of Labor is working with federal Homeland Security officials and advocates to provide temporary protection from prosecution as well as potential removal.
The changes come as New York officials are separately seeking an expedited path for migrants with asylum seeker status to obtain the legal right to work in New York amid an influx of people arriving in the state.
"This important partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will not only help to protect the integrity of our labor investigations, but also the safety of vulnerable New York workers," Hochul said. "New York is proud to lead the nation in worker protections, and we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal partners to ensure that all workers enjoy their right to fairness and safety in the workplace - regardless of their immigration status."
The protections are meant to reduce the reluctance among undocumented workers to report unscrupulous business practices and reduce threats of retaliation.
Workers can submit or have an advocate or attorney submit for deferred action, protecting from removal for two years, when they are involved in workplace labor investigations.
"Fear of retaliation is paralyzing for any worker, but it is especially dreadful for immigrants. At the Department of Labor, we investigate all complaints, regardless of immigration status," Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said. "We believe that all workers have rights in every workplace across New York State. If any worker is a victim of or a witness to labor violations, please report it to us. We can help."