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Officials Reach Out to Undocumented Immigrants on Labor Day

Courtesy photo
Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City

The Utah Labor Commission and the Mexican Consulate are using Labor Day to raise awareness about the work rights of immigrants. Elena Bensor is a Public Information Officer for the Utah Labor Commission, and she says many people don’t know that undocumented immigrants have labor rights.

“It is illegal for the employer not to pay the wages that they are owed,” Bensor says. “Also, employees have the right to medical assistance when they do suffer a work-related accident, regardless of their status.”

The Utah Labor Commission and the Mexican Consulate have been holding meetings this past week with immigrants to inform them of their rights. They also want to encourage them to file a claim if they have not been paid properly or if they suffered a workplace accident. Luis Enrique Franco is with the Mexican Consulate in Utah. He says workshops there help immigrants overcome language and cultural barriers, as well as fear.

“We want to teach all the Latino community and the Mexican internationals to approach to all these offices, so they can be sure their rights are protected, and they can get what is right to get,” Franco says.

Elena Bensor says the outreach efforts have been going on annually for six years, but it’s difficult to gage their success.

“We just see the number of people coming into our office, and based on that, get an idea that I think we’re being fairly successful in educating not just Hispanics, but refugees and other minorities in the state,” Bensor says.  Last year, she says there were more than 1700 wage complaints in the state of Utah.  The Labor Commission does not track the status of those who file the complaints, so they don’t know how many of those came from undocumented immigrants.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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