From KSWT.com, Stephanie Sanchez, 12 Dec 2011.
Yuma, AZ–Mexicans seeking agricultural jobs in the Desert Southwest and throughout the U.S. under a government guest worker program are increasingly becoming victims of fraud.
A U.S. guest worker program that offers food, housing and transportation expenses as well as a steady job sounds like a jackpot to many Mexican citizens who have trouble seeking employment.
This makes many Mexican citizens vulnerable to abuse, as scammers reap in the profits.
“People of course are so desperate they will sell or pawn their furniture, tractors and anything they may have and pay these fees,” Janine Duron, executive director of Independent Agricultural Workers Center in San Luis Rio Colorado said.
According to the non-profit center scammers are posing as recruiters from a federal government’s H-2A program and charging workers hundreds of dollars to obtain a worker’s visa.
“People are so desperate to be able to come to this country to work and work legally because the promises of course is to have an H2 visa to work under,” Duron said.
Duron said unsuspecting applicants are placed in economic hardship and left with nothing but broken promises of a job prospect.
She said scammers could extract up to a thousand dollars from workers.
“The abuse comes in the form of promises for work and/or to get on a waiting list for work in exchange for money for sex, liquor, drugs and a myriad of things,” Duron said.
She said the abuse not only affects the dignity of these aspiring workers but could also affect U.S. agriculture.
“They (Farmers) need to get these crops out in order to keep our food price and quality…keep prices low and quality high,” Duron said. “They need to have a stable available workforce.”
She said the number one thing to look out for is that a recruiter will never ask for money in exchange for a visa or job promise.
For more information, the Independent Agricultural Workers Center is located in San Luis Rio Colorado on 21st Street and Kino avenue.