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PITF Agencies Should Review Temporary Worker Visas Program

The PITF agencies, in particular DOL and DOS, should place emphasis on remedying the structural weaknesses of temporary worker visas that may lead to severe exploitation and human trafficking

 

 

“After paying recruitment, visa processing and travel costs, the majority of internationally recruited workers arrive in the United States with considerable debt. International labor recruiters, who often have a virtual monopoly over the job market in which they recruit, charge workers excessive fees for the opportunity to work in the United States. To pay these fees, many workers borrow money at high interest rates and even use their homes as collateral. Recruiters often lie about visa and working conditions or require workers to sign extremely disadvantageous employment contracts. Predictably, workers who arrive in the United States in debt are much less likely to leave the job, whatever the conditions, without first earning enough to repay their debt. Workers are generally unable to repay these loans by working in their home countries for lower wages. Because of common practices in the international labor recruitment industry and the structure of the U.S. work visa program, employers are able to exploit an essentially captive workforce and workers are deterred from asserting their rights under U.S. law. Workers who complain are routinely blacklisted, threatened or physically intimidated by recruiters. Additionally, many internationally recruited workers face language barriers, racism, xenophobia, sexism and the pressures of poverty in both the U.S. and their home countries.

 

The majority of internationally recruited workers are tied to a single U.S. employer through their visas. With few exceptions, an internationally recruited worker’s legal immigration status is dependent on his or her continuing relationship to the employer. In most cases, a worker who resigns or is fired from employment is no longer authorized to remain in the United States; the worker is required to return to his or her home country within several days, and the employer is required to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the termination. When they return to their home countries, internationally recruited workers who complain are then blacklisted by recruiters who control access to future employment opportunities in the United States. Finally, internationally recruited workers who, in spite of these risks, still wish to complain against unlawful employment practices face incredible obstacles to accessing legal services in the United States.”

 

Excerpt from “The American Dream Up for Sale: A Blueprint for Ending International Labor Recruitment Abuse,” The International Labor Recruitment Working Group. Full report and recommendations: http://fairlaborrecruitment.wordpress.com/report/

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Idea No. 187