Republican lawmakers are expressing shock over a Labor Department ad campaign that offers government assistance to illegal immigrants who think they're getting shortchanged for their work -- and at least one of them is planning to write to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis for an explanation.
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he wants to know why taxpayers are being asked to spend money to ensure that illegals get assistance for fair wages while millions of unemployed Americans struggle to find jobs.
"That's insane," Chaffetz told FoxNews.com on Wednesday. "That's just unbelievable."
But the Labor Department stood by the campaign, saying in a written statement to FoxNews.com that "through Democratic and Republican administrations, the Department of Labor has consistently held that the country's minimum wage and overtime law protects workers regardless of their immigration status."
In a public service announcement posted on the department's website, Solis says workers -- legal or not -- have the right to fair wages.
"You work hard, and you have the right to be paid fairly," she says. "And it is a serious problem when workers in this country are not being paid every cent they earn. Remember, every worker in America has the right to be paid fairly, whether documented or not. So call us."
The ad then offers a toll-free number -- in English and Spanish -- to call for assistance in recovering additional income.
The announcement is part of a bilingual national awareness campaign called "We Can Help," launched in April to reach out to the nation's "low-wage and vulnerable workers."Actor Jimmy Smits and other activist celebrities are featured in the spots.
It is not clear how much the campaign costs.
In a press release issued at the launch of the campaign, the Labor Department said it seeks to help workers learn how to file a complaint with the department's wage and hour division to recover owed wages. Solis said in the press release that she has added more than 250 new field investigators nationwide to participate in the campaign.
"I'm here to tell you that your president, your secretary of labor and this department will not allow anyone to be denied his or her rightful pay -- especially when so many in our nation are working long, hard and often dangerous hours," Solis said. "We can help and we will help. If you work in this country, you are protected by our laws. And you can count on the U.S. Department of Labor to see to it that those protections work for you."
The initiative appears to contradict labor law -- cited on the Labor Department's own website -- which states that employers may hire only people who work legally in the United States. The Obama administration has vowed to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants, employers that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has called "evildoers."
But the Labor Department says protecting undocumented workers fro