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Foreign "Guest Workers" Allege Slavery, Demand Passports from Employer - Hurricane Katrina Survivors Join Workers in Confronting Louisiana Slave Holder
Friday, 16 February 2007 20:39
Westlake , Louisiana - Close to 100 Mexican guest workers have been trapped for months in Westlake, Louisiana after their employer illegally confiscated their passports.  Workers were recruited under false pretenses and transported to the U.S. where they have been subjected to humiliating conditions and treatment.   Workers and advocates allege that the employer, a prominent business leader, has violated anti-slavery and human trafficking laws while leasing the workers to local businesses for a profit.
Already vulnerable and economically desperate in their home country, the workers were defrauded by the employer who promised steady work and fair pay in the U.S.  He charged them for airfare to the U.S., and proceeded to pack them into vans to cross the border.  He seized their passports in Mexico, ostensibly for their own safety.  Despite numerous requests by the workers, this business owner has steadfastly refused to return the passports in effect holding them captive in his employ. Workers who have organized to demand their passports have faced retaliation and threats of deportation.
Hurricane Katrina survivors and African-American civil rights leaders will join the guest workers to confront the employer and take a stand against modern day slavery. The group is demanding that the employer return the workers' passports.   The group is also challenging government officials to recognize that the H-2B visa program is being used as an opportunity to subject workers to slave-like conditions across Louisiana .
In advance of the confrontation, Katrina survivors and workers have alerted the US Attorney General, US Department of Justice, US Department of Labor, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other state and local law enforcement agencies of the practices of this prominent Louisiana slaveholder.

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