Introduction: The Border Crossed US: Current Issues in Immigrant Labor


A group of unionized Latino, Chinese, and Polish workers in a Manhattan garment factory complain to the factory owner about his failure to pay overtime as required by law, and some workers file administrative complaints with the New York Department of Labor. In retaliation, the owner fires the workers who filed complaints. When the union grieves the discharges and the Department of Labor notifies the factory owner of his overtime liability, the owner casts about for another strategy to punish his workers and, hopefully, evade his overtime obligations. Choosing a familiar path, the owner calls the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) to request a raid of his own factory. INS obliges, arresting nearly thirty workers, and declines to fine the factory owner in light of his cooperation on the raid. But this story has an unusual ending: the Immigration Judge hearing the resulting deportation cases dismissed them, on the grounds that the INS had violated its own internal rules restricting worksite raids in the middle of a labor dispute, and the New York Department of Labor successfully prosecuted the factory owner for violating its anti-retaliation statute by calling the INS to punish his workers.

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