Labor Secretary: ‘President’s Executive Action Will Help Lift Wages’

By Ali Meyer | November 24, 2014 | 1:33pm EST

Labor Secretary Tom Perez (AP File Photo)

( - Labor Secretary Tom Perez said that President Obama’s executive action on immigration “will help lift wages” and that illegal immigrants are “exploited by employers” during a Politico event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 20.

“There have been a number of estimates of how the president’s executive action will help lift wagesm and I agree with that,” Perez said. “What would help lift wages even more is comprehensive immigration reform, and there is no substitute for that comprehensive reform."

Obama announced his executive order on immigration on Thursday, saying, “If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.”

Not only did Perez say that this action would help lift wages, but that illegal immigrants are “exploited by employers.”

"There have been studies from Brookings [Institution], from elsewhere that document that, and when you are – we have a robust docket of cases of undocumented immigrants who are exploited by employers,” Perez said.

“The Fair Labor Standards Act applies to anyone working in America. Their immigration status is irrelevant to the determination of a wage and hour violation,” he said.

“The reality is there are too many employers who exploit immigrant workers, and both legal immigrants and illegal immigrants documented this, and when you move people into the sunshine you remove the incentive for that,” Perez added.

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