The U.S. Department of Labor told CNSNews.com in a written statement on Wednesday that it will enforce the federal wage laws on behalf of anyone working in the United States “regardless of their immigration status.” The statement was in response to a written question from CNSNews.com.
The written statement backed up a video statement that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis made to CNSNews.com on Monday in which she indicated that “partnership” agreements she had signed that day with a group of Latin American countries will obligate the U.S. government to protect the working conditions for both “documented and undocumented” migrant laborers here in the United States. (See earlier story.)
The Labor Department’s determination to make U.S. employers treat illegal aliens taking jobs in the United States as if they were U.S citizens or legal immigrants seems to contradict the Immigration and Nationality Act. That act says “employers may hire only persons who may legally work in the United States (i.e., citizens and nationals of the U.S.) and aliens authorized to work in the U.S.” and that the U.S. government “protects U.S. citizens and aliens authorized to accept employment in the U.S. from discrimination in hiring or discharge on the basis of national origin and citizenship status.”
After being unable to get a question into Solis or another Labor Department official during a conference call the Labor Department held with reporters on Wednesday, CNSNews.com followed up with a question sent to the Labor Department via e-mail.
The question was: “Will the Department of Labor enforce existing law under the Immigration and Nationality Act that says ‘employers may hire only persons who may legally work in the United States (i.e. citizens and nationals of the U.S.) and aliens authorized to work in the U.S.?’”
A Department of Labor official responded: “The WHD [Wage and Hour Division] administers and enforces the law for all workers employed in the United States, regardless of their immigration status.”
On Monday, Labor Secretary Solis had signed “partnerships” with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador to protect the rights of “migrant” workers in the United States.
During the signing ceremony, Solis said, “No matter how you got here or how long you plan to stay, you have certain rights. You have the right to be safe and in a healthy workplace and the right to a legal wage. We gather here today to strengthen our shared commitment to protect the labor rights of migrant workers in the United States. Unfortunately, due to language barriers and immigration status, migrant workers can be those that are most vulnerably abused.”
After the signing ceremony, CNSNews.com asked Solis: “Both documented and undocumented workers will be protected under U.S. labor laws?”
“It has always been the case under previous Republican as well as Democratic administrations,” Solis answered. “All we’re doing is enforcing the law and we’re allowing for other individual groups and partnerships with other consulate offices to work with us in expanding our reach in information. What we’re trying to avoid is that vulnerable communities be abused and that there be an increase in more underground activity, economic activity that goes untapped, those monies that are being paid to workers.”
Before signing the “partnerships” with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador on Monday, Solis had already signed similar partnerships to with the governments of Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala to protect migrant workers in the U.S. from those countries. Solis indicated on Monday that she was also “pursuing accords with governments from South East Asia and others in the Caribbean.”