The Potential for Deferred Action if You Assist a Government Agency’s Investigation into Your Employer’s Violations of the Law

When people hear the phrase “deferred action” concerning immigration law, they may initially focus on the DREAMers. Other processes beyond just Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA, potentially can help immigrants protect themselves from deportation, however. To find out if you can shield yourself from deportation through a deferred action process (or other means,) consult an experienced Maryland immigration lawyer.

One form of deferred action (outside of DACA) was in the news earlier this year, and it safeguards immigrant workers caught in an all-too-common situation. You may have even seen fictionalized versions of this circumstance play out on television. The undocumented worker is the victim of (or otherwise witnesses) his/her employer engaging in illegal practices. The employer then blackmails the worker into silence by threatening to contact “ImmigraciĆ³n” (a/k/a federal immigration authorities) and get the worker deported.

The Department of Homeland Security has long had a process to allow these workers to pursue deferred action and protect themselves from removal. Earlier this year, DHS announced that it had “streamlined” the process, allowing workers to receive “expedited” processing of their deferral requests.

To be potentially entitled to this sort of deferred action, an undocumented worker must first report a labor/employment law violation to a labor agency. This can be a federal, state, or local labor agency. Labor law violations that can be the basis for an investigation (and a grant of deferred action) may range from wage theft to workplace safety violations, among others.

The Deferred Action Process

After the worker reports, the labor agency will issue something called a “Statement of Interest” to the worker while also forwarding a copy to DHS. Once the worker receives the statement from the agency, he/she then can submit a formal, written request that states the basis for potential deferred action. The worker may also submit evidence that supports the worker’s request. These items can include things like W2s, pay stubs, time cards, or other documentation establishing that the worker was employed during the relevant period.

After doing these things, if the DHS decides that your filing meets the requirements, you will receive Form G-325A and Form I-765. After you complete a biometrics appointment, the DHS will consider deferring action.

The DHS, in its recent efforts to streamline the process, set up a single intake point for all of these deferred action requests. “The centralized intake process will allow DHS to efficiently review these time-sensitive requests, [and] provide additional security to eligible workers,” according to the DHS.

Undocumented Workers May Be Especially Vulnerable to Wage Theft

Wage theft, where employers illegally deny workers overtime compensation, pay workers less than the minimum wage, or force workers to work unpaid hours (a/k/a “off the clock,”) is a common problem. Earlier this year, a Nevada painting company that allegedly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and threatened workers’ immigration status if they spoke out, agreed to pay more than $3.5 million. The case involved allegations of both unpaid overtime and workers forced to work off the clock. In New York State, a federal judge issued a restraining order forbidding the president of a nursery and garden supply company from threatening workers with deportation if they cooperated with a FLSA investigation conducted by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

In 2022, a federal court issued an order demanding that a New Hampshire home healthcare company cease forcing its workers to “kick back” to the employer sums recovered by the WHD. The employer’s forms of coercion varied, but included “threats of deportation or reports to immigration authorities.”

Undocumented workers are vulnerable in many ways. They often are not as sophisticated as their employers when it comes to U.S. laws, including immigration laws. They also have much to lose if they’re deported, making threats of removal or reports to immigration authorities particularly potent. If your employer has been illegally underpaying in violation of federal law (or otherwise violating labor and employment law,) you have the right to take action. You not only can report that violation, but you may also have the option to obtain deferred action if you’re part of an agency investigation into the violation. To find out more about your eligibility for deferred action for labor enforcement, reach out to the skilled Maryland deportation defense attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC. Our team has the knowledge you need to help you get the outcome you desire. Contact us today at 301-519-2801 or via our online form to schedule your consultation.

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