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After a federal memo, Nashville organizers push for better workplace protections for immigrants

A coalition of Nashville workers, organizers and unions gathered outside the US Citizenship and Immigrations Service Field Office in Nashville Monday, lobbying for more workplace protections for immigrants.
Courtesy Workers' Dignity via Facebook
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A coalition of Nashville workers, organizers and unions gathered outside the US Citizenship and Immigrations Service Field Office in Nashville Monday, lobbying for more workplace protections for immigrants.

The Biden administration has ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to end workplace raids. Nashville workers and advocates have praised the move, but say there’s still more to be done to protect undocumented workers. 

The head of the Department of Homeland Security made the announcement in a memo earlier this year. The goal is to crack down more on exploitative employers, rather than workers. And a deadline is looming at the end of this week for agencies to submit new rules more in line with that goal.

Nashville-based groups are asking the department to better protect immigrant workers from abusive practices. 

Cecilia Prado is an organizer with the group Workers’ Dignity. She says an end to workplace raids is a big win. But the people she works with are often confronting different kinds of concerns.

“Workers come in and they say ‘Hey, I was fired for requesting my workers’ compensation benefits,’” she says, “or ‘I was told by my boss that they would call Customs and Immigration if I keep asking them to pay me for the work that I did.’” 

Organizers demonstrated Monday outside the Nashville field office of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, which is an agency under the umbrella of DHS.The organizers are part of a coalition asking DHS to create a streamlined process so that workers can apply for legal status and report workplace mistreatment, without the threat of being deported.

Department agencies must submit their rules by Saturday. 

Alexis Marshall is the 2018 fall reporting intern at Nashville Public Radio. She is a senior at Middle Tennessee State University.
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