Sunday, May 27, 2007

Recruiters Corrupt Guestworker Program

Should this be filed under "unintended consequences" or just under "they are brown people so to hell with them"?
Standing in the baking sun outside the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, hundreds of Mexicans wait anxiously for temporary work visas. But even before they were fingerprinted and interviewed for the permit, many had already paid recruiters thousands of dollars in hopes of easing the way.

Supplying the U.S. guestworker program is a complex and sometimes criminal network of foreign recruiters who extort money from poor migrants and then keep them on the job by forcing them into debt or threatening their families back home.

Employers also are often at the recruiters' mercy, forced to accept workers who could be desperately in debt or simply wrong for the job.

And when their brief glimpse of the American dream becomes a nightmare, some legal guest workers simply disappear, melting into the growing U.S. population of illegal immigrants.

"Everyone has the same complaint. Everyone you see here is in debt," said Gilberto Escalante, a 41-year-old fisherman who swept his arm past at a crowd of migrant hopefuls waiting for visas outside the consulate in Monterrey. "But there aren't any other options. The company calls the recruiter direct, and the recruiter has all the power."

All employers need to do to secure federal permission to hire foreign workers is provide proof that no American wants the job. Once that request is granted, companies rely on recruiters to do the rest, and the U.S. government stands back.

This was inevitable. I was going to mention that before, but thought everyone would have realized it. One of the first things to be done in any new program is build in safeguards from the hyenas who'll do whatever they can to take advantage of it and exploit the poor.

(read more)

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