As described below, Department of Labor policy and practice supports illegal immigrants in at least three ways. This shouldn’t be surprising. Illegal immigrants had no better friend in the Obama administration, and few anywhere in American, than Tom Perez, Obama’s Secretary of Labor.
Here is how Perez used the DOL to promote the interests of illegal immigrants. First, an Obama administration-era memorandum of understanding between the DOL, the EEOC, the NLRB and DHS/ICE prohibits ICE from conducting enforcement activities against illegals when a DOL, EEOC, or NLRB investigation is pending.
This seems indefensible. Why should illegal immigrants and their employers be exempt from ICE enforcement activity merely because a DOL investigation is pending? It’s almost as if the Obama administration has carved out its own “sanctuary city.”
Second, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the DOL invests a significant amount of its budget conducting investigations and collecting back wages for illegal immigrants. This wouldn’t bother me if the budget for investigating and litigating wage and hour violations were unlimited, but it is not. By devoting resources to seeking back wages for illegal immigrants, the DOL is short-changing victims of pay act violations who are in this country legally, including American citizens.
A 2015 Report from DOL’s Office of Inspector General on WHD’s back wage distributions found that from 2010 to 2015, WHD transferred $72 million in back wages to the Treasury Department for employees it could not locate. It’s likely that a large portion of these funds were collected for illegal immigrants no longer in the country or not willing to contact DOL to claim the money. Thus, even from a purely pragmatic standpoint, the DOL’s resources would be better spent pursuing back pay on behalf of citizens and lawful residents.
Third, the DOL has entered a number of partnerships with Central American, South American, and Asian Pacific Government to facilitate complaints against employers by their citizens, regardless of immigration status. I don’t think our government should be devoting resources to encouraging complaints by illegal immigrants that apparently may immunize them from visits by ICE to their workplaces.
One year into the Trump administration, these pro-illegal immigrant policies remain intact. It’s my understanding that Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta has shown no interest in undoing any of them. The issues have been raised with Acosta, but he seems bent on ignoring them. From all that appears, he’s fine with the status quo, including the government’s own “sanctuary city” program.
As was the case during the Obama administration, illegal immigrants have no better friend in high office than the Secretary of Labor.
Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise. At both the Justice Department and the DOL, Acosta has been unwilling to take action that would alienate leftists. He has raised inaction to an art form.
At DOL, far from making regulatory roll back a priority, he has taken what can euphemistically be called “a cautious approach” to controversial policy matters. For example, although he withdrew the Obama Administration’s interpretation of “independent contractors” under the Fair Labor Standards Act with respect to home health registries, he has done nothing to prevent DOL employees from continuing to use it, which they do aggressively. Senator Rubio complained about this in a letter to Acosta.
Acosta is so unwilling to offend the left that he has not removed any of the Obama/Perez holdovers on the DOL’s Administrative Review Board (ARB), the influential body that issues final agency decisions for the Secretary of Labor in cases arising under a wide range of worker protection laws — more than three dozen of them. The members of this Board serve entirely at the pleasure of the Secretary. Acosta had the right to dismiss them the day he took office. Yet, four of the five remain in place (the other left a month or two ago on his own accord).
Given his track record, including his unwillingness even to cut the low-hanging fruit at the ARB, it was predictable that Acosta wouldn’t alter DOL policy favoring illegal immigrants. But what were the odds that President Trump would not disturb the aggressive pro-illegal immigrant, anti enforcement policies put in place by Barack Obama and Tom Perez? Until he appointed Acosta, they were slim indeed.