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Employment immigration: Bill seeks to end threats of deportation

Those people who come to this country as undocumented often find employment with various businesses. Some of these companies exploit those undocumented workers by paying them less money than what would be considered acceptable by the standards of most American workers. The workers can feel as though they have no way to report their employers, as doing so may make them vulnerable to deportation. However, new legislation here in New York related to employment immigration seeks to remedy that, by clarifying an existing law to include protections for undocumented workers.

The current law prevents employers from firing, threatening, penalizing or discriminating against employees who report companies for wage violations. New York's Attorney General Letitia James wishes to include threats relating to a worker's immigration status within the scope of that law. The Department of Labor reports that it has investigated at least 30 cases over the last three years that concern threats to a worker's immigration status. Punishments for violations will not change, which can be up to three years in prison and a fine of $20,000.

Some advocates want to see the law changed from a misdemeanor to a felony, but there is no word on whether that will occur. The deputy commissioner for worker protection says that he believes in protecting all workers in New York, no matter their immigration status. He reports that some immigrants ask his department to wait to confront employers because they are fearful that their bosses may report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The fear of being deported is a very real one for many New York residents. Matters of employment immigration can be difficult to manage on one's own. Consulting an experienced attorney may give an undocumented person the best chance at obtaining citizenship or permanent residency. Though the situation may seem desperate, there are ways to move forward.

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