- Santa Fe worker Mariana Gómez makes history.
- She is the first in her state to receive deportation proction under a new process.
- She was a victim of labor exploitation.
Mariana Gómez, a brave immigrant from Guatemala, has become the first undocumented person in New Mexico to obtain deportation protection.
It comes as the result of a federal program designed for those who have been victims of labor exploitation in the United States.
During a press conference held on Monday, December 4, Gómez shared her heartbreaking experience.
«I suffered from wage theft, they did not pay me the minimum wage or for all the hours I worked, nor overtime,» Gómez said, according to the EFE agency.
Santa Fe worker Mariana Gómez receives deporation protection
Her testimony reflects the reality faced by many undocumented workers in the country, who are often victims of abusive labor practices.
Gómez’s odyssey began in 2021 when she accepted a job at an herbal shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
However, what should have been an employment opportunity quickly turned into a nightmare of exploitation by her employer.
Now Gómez has achieved an important milestone by being the first undocumented person in New Mexico to be approved for the deferred action program for victims of workplace abuse.
Biden approves the deferred action program
The deferred action program was announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2022. This program offers a layer of protection against deportation.
Under this program, Gómez has been granted a work permit and a Social Security number while the investigation into her workplace abuse case is underway.
Earlier this year the Biden administration announced measures to accelerate the processing of applications submitted under this program.
This decision has had a direct impact on Mariana Gómez’s life, allowing her to access the protection she needed in record time.
What is the deferred action program?
The deferred action program for victims of workplace abuse is a lifeline for those who, like Gómez, face inhumane working conditions.
It pauses any deportation proceedings while granting recipients a work permit.
The program seeks to give victims the space and resources necessary to seek justice and reparation for labor abuses.
Mariana Gómez’s story highlights the importance of addressing the specific vulnerabilities of undocumented workers.
A victory for Mariana Gómez?
Sarita Nair, secretary of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, said at a news conference that this type of help is necessary.
Many workers suffer from labor exploitation and do not report it for fear of being reported to the immigration authorities.
In order to apply for the program, the immigrant must have filed a complaint with the Department of Labor about the alleged exploitation.
After the complaint, if appropriate, this agency is responsible for sending the request for immigration protection to DHS.
Mariana Gómez’s case demonstrates that it is possible to protect those who contribute significantly to the country’s workforce, regardless of their immigration status.
“The main requirement is that the case remains open and under investigation,” said Zulema Chavero, a community organizer with Somos Un Pueblo Unidos, an organization in New Mexico.
Gómez said that having deferred action has allowed her to find a better job, according to infobae.
“I want to tell my story so that others know that they should not endure being exploited at work. Although we do not have a legal status, we also have rights,” she concluded.