Friday, March 16, 2007

Immigrant Worker Abuse in North Carolina

Twenty-two Thai workers have filed a lawsuit against the former owners of a North Carolina labor contracting company that they allege held them captive, threatened them with violence, stole their money, and did not pay for their labor. Many of the workers were recruited in Thailand by the labor contracting company and told that for a fee of $11,000, they could work as farmworkers in North Carolina for eight dollars per hour. When they arrived in North Carolina, they found a very different scenario. Their passports and return plane tickets were taken from them, they only worked a few days per week on the farms, and they were sent to live in a storage building where they were forced to sleep on the floor and share just one bathroom. The lawsuit is seeking repayment of the recruiter’s fees, and payment of the promised wages and of damages. Kate Woomer-Deters, a lawyer with LSC-funded Legal Aid of North Carolina, which is representing the workers, says, “There’s a desire for a work force that’s not going to speak up. Any time you can get people who are more vulnerable than Hispanic workers, unfortunately, that’s an attractive work force.” Kristin Collins, Workers: Promise Became a Prison; Thai Men Sue N.C. Contractor, The News & Observer (North Carolina), Mar. 10, 2007.

Stories like this are all-too-common nowadays.  Human trafficking and labor exploitation can be traced to U.S. immigration law and enforcement.


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Stories like this are all-too-common nowadays. Human trafficking and labor exploitation can be traced to U.S. immigration law and enforcement.

Congress did not fund the Immigration Law for an extended period of time. The American Chamber of Commerce was entrusted with its monitoring of the imported workers, and they have totally blown that assignment every time they have sought and gain permission to import labor. The abuse of the growers continues to this day, and this account of the labor problems of the United States is one of many.

It is far more important to go to and read that history, and understand the California Growers literally threw these folks off their jobs when they complained about conditions. And those growers were killing people with such things as insecticide policy. OSHA rules were ignored. Workers were housed in incredibly ugly conditions.

It is very important that at this point this organization is probably the only organization that could actually bring the foreign workers into this country, care for them, and bring safe crops to market. Ah but... ask a grower what he thinks about that idea.

Posted by: Joel E. Wischkaemper | Mar 17, 2007 4:07:52 AM

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