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New York Times: ICE Agent Advises Signal International to “Privately” Deport Workers

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The New York Times today uncovers how U.S. immigration authorities under President Bush colluded with a Mississippi marine oil-rig company to punish workers exercising their basic labor rights.  The article details shocking correspondence between the employer, Signal International, and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which advised the company how to privately deport workers who were complaining about mistreatment on the job. 

Apparently, ICE’s advice to the company was this:

Don’t give them any advance notice. Take them all out of the line on the way to work; get their personal belongings; get them in a van, and get their tickets, and get them to the airport, and send them back to India.


The Signal case is a clear and compelling example of how the Bush Administration prioritized enforcement policies over labor rights to the detriment of all workers, as a recent report from American Rights at Work described and as we, at America’s Voice, have consistently highlighted.

Putting the needs of dishonest employers before the rights of workers is un-American. It’s time for a full investigation into the allegations of misconduct that occurred during the Bush years. 

We need to ensure that the enforcement of immigration laws no longer trumps the protection of workers’ rights.