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Undocumented Immigrant Entitled to Benefits For Injury Under Longshore Harbor Worker Compensation Act

The Federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has recently held that an undocumented immigrant who is injured at work is not excluded from receiving benefits under the Longshore Harbor Workers Act. In Bollinger Shipyards v. U.S. Department of Labor et al., 2010 WL 1614594 (2010) an alien without proper working papers submitted a false Social Security number to obtain employment in a shipyard as a pipe fitter. Arguing that the undocumented worker was precluded from compensation benefits because he was ineligible to work in the United States, the employer argued that the injured worker was similar to a “car thief,” a “pirate,” or a “drug dealer” who was making money through “ill gotten gains.” The Fifth Circuit rejected the employer’s argument, affirming its prior decision in Hernandez v. M/V RAJAAN, and again declared that undocumented immigrants are eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits under the Longshore Harbor Workers Act.

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