Confined Space
News and Commentary on Workplace Health & Safety, Labor and Politics

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Homeland Security Finally Backs Down On Impersonation of OSHA Officials

The New York Times reports that the Department of Homeland Security sent a letter to the United Food and Commercial Workers union confirming that they would stop impersonating Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials in order to nab undocumented immigrants.

Last summer, Immigration and Customs Enforcment officials staged a raid on undocumented immigrants in North Carolina by impersonating OSHA officials. The raid led to a firestorm of protest from unions, immigrant rights groups and OSHA who argued that such sting operations would discourage immigrants from seeking assistance from OSHA when working in hazardous jobs. ICE had reaffirmed it right to use such stings, but later said they would only be used when there was a "national security threat or extreme situation." last Summer, where they invited undocumented workers to a phoney OSHA training
This is exactly the action that I.C.E. should have taken," said Jackie Nowell, director of occupational safety for the food and commercial workers union. "Using health and safety as a ruse to catch workers is definitely the wrong way to go when immigrant workers are being killed and injured in far greater numbers than other workers."

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