*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

Workers Say that Employers Threatened to Have Them Deported

On January 2nd, 2017, the Los Angeles Times filed an incredibly disturbing and alarming story regarding the ways in which some Southern California employers are abusing immigrants and attempting to take advantage of their desperate economic situation. Specifically, the Los Angeles Times reports that California employers are increasingly threatening immigrants with deportation as a means to ‘get themselves a better deal’.

California Labor Lawsuit: Theft of Wages

The Los Angeles Times piece begins with the story of a lawsuit that has been filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Julie A. Su, the current Labor Commissioner for the state of California. According to the lawsuit, a man living in Arcadia, CA hired an immigrant worker to tile his bathroom. Under the terms of the relatively informal employment agreement, the immigrant was set to be paid $150 for each day of labor.

Sadly, the promised pay never actually came. For six days, the immigrant laborer performed work without any payment. When the immigrant confronted his boss about the fact that he had yet to be paid, he was subject to a racial slur and his boss immediately threaten to report him to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The lawsuit included a follow-up text message that the immigrant worker allegedly received from his former boss, in which his former boss reaffirmed that he would call ICE and seek deportation if the worker continued to try to obtain the wages that he was promised and that he earned.

A Growing Trend in California: Abuse of Immigrant Workers

Sadly, the story involving the work who was not paid for his labor in Arcadia, California is far from unique. The California Labor Commissioner tells reporters from the Los Angeles Times that this is a pervasive and growing problem in our region. The current climate of fear that exists in immigrant communities has no doubt made many things even more challenging for workers. According to data provided by the Labor Commissioner’s Office, in 2015 only seven lawsuits were filed in California alleging threats of retaliation based on immigration status. In 2016, there were 22 such lawsuits in California. In 2017, that number grew to 94, a shocking increase.

Of course, these numbers are far lower than the reality. This is a vastly underreported issue. While it is strictly unlawful for employers to hire (and not pay) undocumented laborers, it is a thing that happens. Undocumented immigrants who become victims of wage theft feel that they have little recourse, especially in an environment where they feel that they could be deported and separated from their family at any moment.

Contact Our Team Today for Immigration Help

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are strong advocates for the rights of immigrants in LA and their families. If you or a loved one is facing potential removal from the United States, please contact our team today by calling (213) 262-2000. Our immigration lawyer in Los Angeles will work aggressively to fight for your rights.

Josh Goldstein
Social Media