[Excerpt] As Professor Lee discusses, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”), the main agency in charge of health, safety, and wage and hour protections for employees, has failed to ward off the negative effects of IRCA’s workplace-based immigration enforcement scheme. Part of the reason for this failure, as Professor Lee convincingly contends, is that ICE has the power to make enforcement decisions that affect the workplace rights of employees without consulting the DOL. For Professor Lee, the DOL’s relative impotence, coupled with ICE’s lack of regard for employees’ workplace rights in its immigration enforcement measures, allows “bad-actor” employers to trample upon employees’ rights and “chills the reporting of labor violations by unauthorized workers.” Without complaints from employees that identify abusive and non-compliant workplaces, the DOL’s enforcement efforts are often thwarted.
To address this thorny problem, Professor Lee develops a novel approach. Similar to other scholars, he advocates better coordination between ICE and the DOL so that workplace-immigration enforcement does not deteriorate employees’ rights. Importantly, however, Professor Lee diverges from prior accounts by focusing on the potential of interagency coordination between these two agencies at the “ex ante stage.” Specifically, Professor Lee contends that, along with ex post visa solutions, the DOL should monitor ICE’s workplace-based immigration enforcement decisions before ICE investigates a workplace. For instance, Professor Lee proposes that the DOL monitor whether there is an ongoing labor dispute at the workplace before ICE takes any enforcement action. Thus, the DOL’s new monitoring role would be to reduce the negative effects of immigration enforcement in the workplace and to strengthen the rights that individuals possess as employees.