E-2 “investor” visas are in the news with a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles by E-2 workers charging severe labor abuse by their employer, including $3/hour pay.
But what are E-2 visas? How widespread is abuse? How are they connected to immigration reform?
Please join the NGA in urging the United Nations Human Rights Commission to demand that the U.S. stop “deporting the evidence” and offer reliable and enforceable protections to migrant workers who expose labor and human rights violations.
This report exposes the ways in which the United States is “deporting the evidence,” by arresting, detaining, and removing individuals engaged in defending themselves and their communities against serious violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In some cases, the state uses immigration enforcement to retaliate against persons who expose governmental abuses of civil and political rights. In other cases, the state cooperates with private actors who use immigration enforcement to hide their own unlawful behavior. Not only do these actions by the United States directly violate the ICCPR, they also prevent human rights abuses from being exposed or verified because victims and witnesses are intimidated, locked away, or removed from the country.
After the publication of Deporting the Evidence, 29 U.S. civil, labor, and human rights organizations and leading academics wrote to the UN Human Rights Committee, urging it to direct the United States to adopt new measures to bring its immigration enforcement policies into compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
On August 19, 2013, immigrant guestworkers on H-2B visas defied threats of deportation to expose horrific conditions they endured while they were leased out as housecleaners to luxury condo managers on Florida’s Emerald Coast.
The workers’ employer, a contractor on Florida’s Emerald Coast called Mister Clean Laundry and Cleaning Services, charged the workers thousands of dollars in recruitment fees that plunged their families into debt. He forced them into overcrowded company housing and sub-minimum-wage jobs, then leased them to luxury beach condo managers. When the workers stood up to demand their pay, the employer issued written threats that he would evict them and have them deported by immigration police.
From the report’s introduction:
Thousands of people cross international lines in search of a better life or a better security for them and their families. Although some migrants move with the desire to improve their income, many are forced to leave their homes because of poverty or famine, other natural disasters and even violent conflict, or because they are persecuted.
The report, ¿Quo Vadis? Reclutamiento y contratación de trabajadores migrantes y su acceso a la seguridad social: dinámica de los sistemas de trabajo temporal migratorio en Norte y Centroamérica, offers an excellent opportunity to learn in depth the current state of this phenomenon, but also an opportunity for reflection on the search to improve the design and implementation of immigration policies which are meant to protect the rights of temporary migrant workers in this region.
Download the full report here (PDF 1.7 MB) or view below.
Despite threats to their families, guestworkers in Louisiana went on strike in June 2012 to expose forced labor on the Walmart supply chain. In Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood subjected 40 Mexican guestworkers on H-2B visas to forced labor, stolen wages, unfair labor practices and discrimination—from which Walmart profited.
In July 2012, in response to an official complaint by the NGA, the Department of Labor cited C.J.’s Seafood for multiple serious violations of federal safety and health rules, and fined the company $21,550.
Leveling the Playing Field: Reforming the H-2B Program to Protect Guestworkers and U.S. Workers, a report released by the NGA in June 2012, details how employers have turned the H-2B visa program into the “ultimate tool” for undercutting U.S. workers and exploiting low-wage guestworkers, while corporate lobbyists block Department of Labor reforms that would level the playing field.
The report highlights cases of exploitation from Texas to Tennessee, and calls for four indispensable reforms that would end employer abuse and protect both guestworkers and U.S. workers:
Survey shows preliminary evidence of forced labor across Walmart supply chain
NEW YORK, NY, June 29, 2012—In a review of 18 U.S. Walmart suppliers that employ guestworkers, two-thirds show preliminary evidence of forced labor, including 622 federal citations for safety, health, and wage and hour violations (download PDF), as well as dozens of federal lawsuits alleging significant violations of civil and labor rights law.
These violations suggest a fundamental disregard for the law by the majority of U.S. Wal-Mart suppliers surveyed, and given the additional constraints of the guestworker program, amount to strong preliminary evidence of forced labor conditions for the guestworkers on Wal-Mart’s U.S. supply chain.
The National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) conducted the review after H-2B guestworkers went on strike to expose forced labor at Wal-Mart supplier C.J.’s Seafood in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, on June 4. And independent investigation by the Worker Rights Consortium, a leading labor watchdog, found “systematic violations of labor law and grossly inhumane treatment” at the Walmart supplier, saying that conditions “rival any sweatshop in China or Bangladesh.”
Despite threats to their families, guestworkers in Louisiana went on strike in June 2012 to expose forced labor on the Walmart supply chain. In Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood has subjected 40 Mexican guestworkers on H-2B visas to forced labor, stolen wages, unfair labor practices and discrimination—from which Walmart has profited.
Below are copies of official complaints filed on June 6, 2012, on behalf of the workers with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Three federal investigations were opened, by DOL Wage & Hour, OSHA, and the EEOC.
In July 2012, the DOL cited C.J.’s Seafood for multiple serious violations of federal safety and health rules, and fined the company $21,550 (PDF).