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Dignity for Domestic Workers

My family’s American Dream began when my grandmother, Victoria Castro, came to the United States from Mexico as a recently orphaned 7-year old. Working as a maid, a cook, and a babysitter, she provided for my mother, and then Joaquin and me.

We grew up listening to her speak about her struggles of being a domestic worker in a society that often ignores people like her.

Domestic labor has been excluded from national labor protections for too long, and that will end now. Listening to domestic workers like my grandmother, understanding their hardships, and valuing them in our society will be a priority as president, and that begins with rewriting our labor laws.

  • Pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act. I will strengthen labor protections for domestic workers, including eligibility under overtime protections, ending exclusion from anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws, strong health and safety protections such as required breaks, and establishing tools for effective enforcement.
  • Ensure domestic workers who report crimes or labor violations do not face retaliation from employers or legal authorities. Domestic workers, often from marginalized communities, face significant impediments to reporting illegal and unsafe labor practices. I support protections, including protections against immigration enforcement for non-citizen domestic workers and their families, to ensure workers are protected when reporting illegal activities. This includes expanded use of the U and T-visas, visa programs for victims of crimes including workplace-related crimes and human trafficking, to ensure non-citizens are allowed to continue to reside in the United States after being victims of criminal activity. These protections also include prohibiting the sharing of immigration status between the Department of Labor and immigration enforcement agencies and ensuring workers involved in a labor dispute are shielded from punitive immigration enforcement.
  • Establish portable benefits, including for paid family and medical leave and health care. Dignity for domestic workers requires a truly universal health care system that does not require regular employment or employment with a single employer to guarantee health care coverage. Certain benefits, such as paid family and medical leave through the FAMILY Act and health care will be supported through social insurance or universal health care programs and will be available regardless of immigration status. I support sectoral bargaining, joint employer standards, and federal legislation modeled on California’s AB5 to end employee misclassification to strengthen benefits such as for retirement, including through required employer contributions.
  • Establish housing support for victims of human trafficking. Through my housing policy, I have committed to $50 billion in affordable housing investments each year, in addition to support for specific housing programs including for victims of domestic violence. I will establish housing programs to protect victims of trafficking.
  • Ensure employment-based immigration meets the needs of the American economy, including agricultural and domestic workers, and provides these workers a pathway to citizenship. Currently, our nation faces a shortage of both domestic and agricultural workers. Unfortunately, our current guest worker visa programs are broken, create an imbalance of power between sponsoring employers and worker visa-holders, and as a result are often rife with trafficking, wage theft, and other abuses. As president, I will phase out our abusive agricultural guest-worker visa system with new immigrant visa programs for agricultural and domestic workers, based on the needs of the economy, ensuring a clear pathway to citizenship, the ability to change employers, and the protection of federal labor laws for immigrants, regardless of status. These reforms will be paired with establishing a clear pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States, many of whom are agricultural or domestic workers.

Workers First Policies​