From Massachusetts this week comes the story of Jose Flores, a 37-year-old construction worker who is now in immigrant detention after he dared to ask his employer for workers’ compensation. His case may be the latest example of how the Trump Administration practices immigration retaliation.
Jose Flores, detained after asking for workers’ comp
Jose has been living in Massachusetts for almost seven years and has five children (three of whom are US-born citizens) with his longtime partner, Rosa Benitez. The couple had to leave Honduras because of gang violence there; Rosa’s father was killed by a gang after they told him to pay a fee and he didn’t.
The family has had no income for two months. Jose, the sole provider, fell off a ladder at a job site and broke his femur, leading to multiple surgeries. When Jose sought compensation with his employer, the employer arranged a meeting — and ICE was waiting there. Here’s more from WBUR in Boston:
Lawyers for Flores say it’s still unclear whether the employer — who, it turns out, had no workers’ comp coverage on the day of Flores’ accident — arranged the arrest that day.
The company, Tara Construction, has declined to comment.
Because Flores has orders to be deported back to Honduras, ICE agents had the authority to take him into custody. But the concern for Flores’ immigration attorney, Christina Corbaci, is that this could signal another new enforcement approach by ICE under President Trump.
“Before, I wouldn’t have really had a concern telling someone, ‘Yes, you should go ahead to report something like this and assert your rights,’ ” Corbaci said. “But now we have this added fear that, could an employer in this kind of case just, you know, use someone’s immigration situation against them?”
DHS, DOJ, and immigration retaliation
This wouldn’t be the first case of retaliation when it comes to Donald Trump and immigrants. Trump himself is a famously thin-skinned and vengeful man — and we now have multiple points of evidence that his Administration is just as retaliatory. Consider:
- Daniela Vargas, the Dreamer in Mississippi who was originally not arrested when ICE came to her home to arrest her father and brother. After she spoke out about her case at a press conference, however, ICE stopped her car on the way home. “You know why we’re here,” they told her.
- The Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP). The organization has been active in the resistance to Trump in recent months, including taking action at Seattle’s international airport during Trump’s first travel ban and filing a proposed class-action lawsuit against both travel bans. Now, the DOJ wants NWIRP to stop some of its legal casework on individual deportation cases — a move that NWIRP says is retaliation for its advocacy work.
- In January, ICE deliberately targeted Austin, Texas for immigration raids after a new policy by Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez dramatically limited her cooperation with them. ICE even told two magistrate judges why they were going after Austin.
- Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice has tried multiple retaliatory tactics against cities that are friendly to immigrants — and they’ve blown up in his face. Trump and Sessions’ threat to cut off funds to so-called “sanctuary cities” was dealt a legal setback in April. Sessions sent a number of letters to cities and counties he deemed sanctuary cities, but the mayors he met with remained confused as to how Sessions was defining sanctuary.
- Finally, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security was publishing reports that attempted to name and shame sanctuary cities — but after a litany of complaints about how Trump had incorrect information, DHS had to stop publishing the reports.
Also read about how easy it is for employers to rip off immigrant workers and how one Oklahoma state representative doesn’t want to pay workers’ compensation to immigrants at all.