INDIAN WORKERS CONGRESS PETITION AGAINST TRAFFICKING AND FORCED LABOR IN THE POST-KATRINA GULF COAST sign now

NEW ORLEANS WORKERS CENTER / ALLIANCE OF GUEST WORKERS FOR DIGNITY
INDIAN WORKERS CONGRESS
PETITION AGAINST TRAFFICKING AND FORCED LABOR
IN THE POST-KATRINA GULF COAST

WHEREAS, over 500 Indian guest workers in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast have suffered untold abuses at the hands of Signal International, LLC and its recruiters in the US and India specifically:

Signal International, LLCs agents in the US and India recruited the Indian guest workers by force, fraud, and coercion.
Signal International, LLCs US and Indian recruiters promised workers lawful permanent residency, and visas for their families, but instead brought them to the US on ten-month H2B guest worker visas.
Signal International, LLC and its US and India recruiters charged workers up to $20,000 each for these visas, and workers plunged their families into debt and mortgaged their futures in the hope of obtaining the American dream.
Signal International, LLCs agents illegally held onto the workers passports and threatening to destroy the passports and visas of workers who refused to pay the balance of the exorbitant recruitment fees;
Signal International, LLC brought workers to the US under these conditions and then forced them to live in man-camp facilities, 24 to a small room, in overcrowded, discriminatory, and surveilled housing;
Signal International, LLC held workers in forced labor, demanding high production, threatening deportation, exploiting the extraordinary debt and economic vulnerability of the workers, and manipulating the H-2B visa programs requirement that workers can only work for the employer listed on their visa;

WHEREAS, when the workers started to organize to improve their basic working and living conditions, Signal International, LLC conducted a pre-dawn raid on its own workforce, sending armed guards into the man-camps on March 9, 2007 to identify key organizers, arrest them, hold them captive in a locked room, and enlist the local police in an attempt to deport them;

WHEREAS, on March 6, 2008, workers escaped Signal International, LLCs labor camps and reported the company and its recruiters to the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) on charges of criminal trafficking and forced labor;

WHEREAS, these survivors of labor trafficking are still waiting for the USDOJ to take the minimum actions necessary to ensure their protection, including granting workers continued presence during the USDOJs investigation and certifying them as victims of trafficking for the Department of Health and Human Services and the U,S, Citizenship and Immigration Service;

WHEREAS, at the same time that the survivors of labor trafficking were cooperating with the USDOJs investigation, the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency covertly surveilled the trafficking victims and refuses to explain, cease, or disavow this surveillance resulting in workers being very concerned about the integrity of the federal governments investigation into their trafficking claims;

WHEREAS, the Indian Government has not taken concrete steps to protect these trafficking victims or their families;

WHEREAS, the USDOJs criminal investigation into Signal International, LLC and its agents is critical to punish these egregious violations of U.S. and international law and expose the specific ways that the current H-2B guestworker program is being used by certain corporations as a legally sanctioned vehicle for labor trafficking that harms both foreign-born and U.S. workers;

WHEREAS, the use of force, fraud, and coercion by Signal International, LLC and its recruiters highlight the way in which certain U.S. corporations, recruiters, and their lawyers have used the U.S. guestworker program as a legally sanctioned vehicle for labor trafficking and forced labor in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast;

THEREFORE, I add my name and support to the growing ranks of allies demanding that:
The US government ensures that Indian guest workers are released from the terror of deportation and granted continued presence as authorized by the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 so that they may safely participate in a the federal governments anti-trafficking investigation.
The US Congress hold hearings that focus on the way that US companies, recruiters, and labor brokers have used the H-2B guestworker program as a legally sanctioned vehicle for trafficking and forced labor in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.
The Indian government take immediate action to move bilateral discussions between India and US and to ensure the protection of migrant workers arriving in the US from India.

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James PearsonBy:
LGTBIn:
Petition target:
U.S. Congress, U.S. Department of Justice

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