By Mario Murillo
Jan. 13 marks the first anniversary of the announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security of the Deferred Action for Labor Enforcement (DALE) policy, which allows migrant workers who denounce employer abuse to a labor enforcement agency to apply for and receive deferred action protections.
Immigrant rights groups and worker centers from New Jersey and New York held rallies in the tri-state area to mark the first anniversary of the Biden Administration’s announcement of DALE, and to protest Biden’s silence when it comes to his own policy on immigrant workers’ rights.
There were also similar actions in Los Angeles, Chicago and New Orleans.
The DALE guidelines won by immigrant workers nationwide allow them to speak out about rampant labor abuse and the need for government protection of migrants enforcing their rights. NDLON estimates that 1,000 to 2,000 workers across the country have come forward to denounce labor abuses and apply for deferred action.
Activists say while the policy has proved successful in some cases, only a fraction of the immigrant workforce has even heard about the policy. Meanwhile, immigrant workers (newly arrived and longer term) continue to suffer rampant wage theft, sexual harassment and assault, discrimination and unsafe work conditions, as evidenced by the ongoing examples of child labor and workplace deaths.
Because of the DALE policy, eight immigrant workers formerly employed by Nick’s Pizza in Rockville Centre were able to begin speaking out in the summer of 2022 on their case against Nicholas J. Angelis, the eatery’s one-time owner, who had owed them hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages for more than a decade. Despite two court judgments, Angelis had refused to pay the workers what the New York State Department of Labor said they were owed.
After nine months of news articles, including a series in The Long Island Advocate and on WABC “Eyewitness News,” and a protest in front of Nick’s last winter, Angelis finally agreed to pay the eight workers a total of $375,000.
Herbert School Vice Dean and Long Island Advocate contributor Mario Murillo spoke this week with Nadia Marin-Molina, the co-executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).