OF SAFETY ENGINEERS
1800 East Oakton Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187
February 14, 2006
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
RE: Impersonation of OSHA Personnel by ICE Agents
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is the nation's oldest and largest organization representing safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals. Our members help ensure that workplaces are safe and healthy and that Americans are able to go home from work each day safe and healthy.
On behalf of our members, I want to express the Society's deep concern over media reports that the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under your direction within the Department of Homeland Security intends to continue the practice of having its agents pose as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) personnel to find illegal immigrants. It was our understanding that ICE had indicated this egregious usurpation of another federal agency's good name and positive contributions to occupational safety and health would be discontinued.
Finding ways to reach out to immigrant workers with safety and health information and training that can help them avoid death, injury and illness on the job has been an increasingly important concern of the safety and health community in recent years. An Hispanic workplace fatality rate that is about 16 percent higher than the overall rate is just one indicator of the need to address immigrant populations. Ironically, President Bush's just-released FY 2007 budget calls for an increase of $2.6 million in OSHA's compliance assistance budget to expand Hispanic worker outreach. ICE's tactics will make this needed investment largely pointless due to the already high levels of distrust in government authority that many immigrants bring to this country.
If the media reports are true, ASSE insists that you intervene and make sure the impersonation of OSHA personnel ends. ASSE fully supports the responsible enforcement of this nation's immigration laws. Doing it in ways that adds to the risk of death, injury and illness among this nation's workforce is not a responsible way to do so.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Jack H. Dobson, Jr., CSP
cc: Jonathan Snare
Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA
John P. Clark
Acting Assistant Secretary of DHS for ICE