U.S. Agreement with Mexico Doesn’t Protect Illegal Alien Workers in U.S., But They Can Call a Hotline

By Penny Starr | September 2, 2016 | 2:39 PM EDT

Mexican Ambassador Carlos Sada Solana and Vanita Gupta, lead counsel for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, spoke at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 1, 2016. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Although a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Mexico and the United States on Thursday to protect Mexican nationals who are working in the U.S. does not extend to illegal aliens, a DOJ spokesperson said that “undocumented workers” will be encouraged to call a hotline to make workplace discrimination complaints and that they will be referred to agencies that can help them directly.

“While the law that OSC (Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-related Unfair Employment Practices) enforces does not protect undocumented workers, we encourage anyone to report discrimination to our hotline, 1-800-255-7688, because OSC may be able to stop the underlying discrimination if it is occurring against others who have work authorization, and there are other federal laws that offer protection against certain kinds of discrimination for workers regardless of status and we can refer them to the government offices that enforce those laws,” the spokesperson told CNSNews.com via email.

The response came after CNSNews.com asked DOJ about the MOU and whether it applied to illegal aliens working in the U.S. This inquiry was based on a report CNSNews.com did in 2014 when the Mexican government signed a MOU with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that did protect illegal aliens and is in effect for three years.

When CNSNews.com asked how employers who have broken federal law by hiring illegal aliens can be sued for discrimination or abuse, a spokeswoman said EEOC does not require “documentation” to handle a claim.

“Yes, under federal law, it is illegal for employers to hire undocumented workers,” Kimberly Smith-Brown told CNSNews.com via email at the time. “However, when someone does come to us with a complaint, we will assist them with their claim.

“The EEOC does not ask the documentation status of anyone that comes to our offices,” Smith-Brown said. “An undocumented worker is afforded the same protections under the law as everyone else.”


Calling it an “historic ceremony” at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta, said that it was fitting to sign the new MOU Thursday ahead of Labor Day.

“As we celebrate Labor Rights Week today, the Department of Justice and Mexico stand together to reinvigorate our shared commitment to educate workers about their rights and to combat unlawful discrimination in the workplace,” Gupta said. “The civil rights division works tirelessly to combat unlawful discrimination against immigrant workers.”

The DOJ spokesperson provided language from the Immigration and Nationality Act that gives OSC legal authority: “It is an unfair immigration-related employment practice for a person or other entity to discriminate against any individual (other than an unauthorized alien, as defined in section 1324a(h)(3) of this title) with respect to the hiring, or recruitment or referral for a fee, of the individual for employment or the discharging of the individual from employment.”

The MOU stated that the U.S. and Mexico will “provide Mexican nationals with information, guidance, and access to education and training resources to help them understand their rights under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1324b.” In addition, the MOU stated that the two countries will “facilitate the referral of appropriate allegations of discrimination, unfair documentary practices, and retaliation to OSC for investigation under 8 U.S.C. § 1324b.”


Please support CNSNews today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]

DONATE

Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

BOOK NOW