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Exploitation Of Indian Migrant Workers

Exploitation Of Indian Migrant Workers

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From Jagjit Singh, Los Altos, CA

I am writing to express my deep concern and outrage after reading Dave Davies’ recent article, “Sold an American Dream, These Workers from India wound up living a nightmare.” This poignant story sheds light on a grave injustice that occurred following Hurricane Katrina in 2006 when hundreds of Indian workers were lured to the Gulf Coast under false pretenses, only to be subjected to horrendous working conditions and exploitation by their employer, Signal International.

The article vividly portrays the harrowing experiences of these workers who were promised green cards but were instead issued temporary H-2B visas that shackled them to a single employer. They were forced to endure round-the-clock shifts and live in deplorable conditions, including overcrowded trailers situated above a toxic waste dump. These conditions are nothing short of modern-day slavery.

Saket Soni, founder and director of Resilience Force, played a pivotal role in helping these workers escape their nightmarish ordeal. Their journey to seek justice, including a courageous march from New Orleans to Washington, D.C., is a testament to the indomitable spirit of these workers and their unwavering commitment to holding Signal International accountable for its crimes.

The fact that the jury found Signal International, its attorney, and the Indian labor recruiter guilty of forced labor, trafficking, and other charges is a welcome step toward justice. However, it is a grim reminder of the systemic vulnerabilities faced by immigrant workers in the United States. Many fear reporting abuse due to the looming threat of deportation, even when subjected to exploitative and inhumane working conditions.

This story underscores the urgent need for comprehensive reforms in immigration policies, labor laws, and protections for immigrant workers. No one should be subjected to such exploitation, especially those who play a critical role in rebuilding communities after natural disasters.

I urge our policymakers to take immediate action to prevent such injustices from recurring. We must ensure that the American dream is not used as bait to lure vulnerable workers into living nightmares.

(This submission is not edited)

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