Aug 12, 2010

The ignored side of illegal immigration

Here is the part of illegal immigration that right-wingers who support Arizona's unconstitutional racist “show-me-your-papers” law ignore and why we need comprehensive immigration reform.

Jobs with Justice (JWJ) is reporting that a Mexican guest worker named Hilario Jimenez escaped on Aug. 11 from company housing to expose his employers. Hilario and other guest workers were recruited from Mexico and brought to the U.S. on H-2B visas by Vanderbilt Landscaping LLC.

Such a visa is available to employers of foreign workers not working in the agricultural field, and is only available for work that is temporary in nature, such as recurring seasonal needs, intermittent need, peak-load need and one time occurrence.

JWJ said Hilario blew the whistle on a Tennessee scandal. Vanderbilt Landscaping, LLC is receiving millions in federal stimulus money and state contracts put together, and the company is importing guest workers - cheap, captive labor - into public jobs even as local communities are suffering from record unemployment rates. Middle Tennessee Jobs with Justice and members of the Alliance of Guest workers of Dignity have joined to fight human trafficking, forced labor and a company that gets millions in state and stimulus money.

JWJ is urging Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate and prosecute the employers for criminal conduct including but not limited to labor trafficking, forced labor, unlawful conduct with respect to documents, and other crimes in coordination with the FBI. They are also calling on the Department of Labor to “decertify Vanderbilt from further employment of guest workers and pursue high penalties for OSHA violations in the labor camps and at the worksites."

Hilario told JWJ that when workers arrived from Mexico, Vanderbilt seized their passports to ensure that workers would not "run away." The company placed workers under surveillance, and managers carried pistols on site to intimidate the workers. Vanderbilt forced Hilario and others into horrific living and working conditions, isolation and constant threat. Still, the workers organized attempted to organize. When Vanderbilt found out, the company forced one of the organizers onto a bus back to Mexico.

Jobs with Justice is a national organization with the vision of lifting up workers’ rights and struggles as part of a larger campaign for economic and social justice and worker‘s rights.

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