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News from Global Workers Justice Alliance

The Alliance, one of my favorite activist groups reported today on two of its initiative to support labor rights of immigrant workers. One, it launched a “defender network” involving representatives from 13 human rights organizations in Latin America. It trained them on worker rights in the United States which are often compromised for H-2 guestworkers. Two, it got the U.S. embassy in Guatemala to distribute to H-2 workers a leaflet it developed with the Southern Poverty Law Center. The leaflet educates these workers on their rights. The Alliance says that “due to the excessive recruitment abuses that are illegal under Guatemalan (and Mexican) law, the guestworker program has become a vehicle for human trafficking.”

The announcement in full:

Global Workers is proud to announce the formal launch of the Global Workers Defender Network. After two years of laying the groundwork, Global Workers invited 23 advocates from 13 human rights organizations from southern Mexico and Guatemala to Tapachula, Mexico from April 28-30 to the first Training on Defending Transnational Migrant Workers in the United States. The excitement for the launch of this unprecedented network was palpable.

Over three days, these seasoned human rights advocates learned about the legal rights of migrant workers in the United States. In addition, they learned how to identify cases of workers who have returned to Mexico and Guatemala after suffering labor and trafficking abuses in the United States. Time was also dedicated to the details of civil litigation so these Defenders can skillfully partner with US advocates to seek justice for individual workers in US courts. Finally, Mexican and Guatemalan legal experts explored the myriad of recruitment abuses H-2 guestworkers suffer before leaving to work the USA.

To read more about the Global Workers Defender Network inaugural training go to our blog at http://globalworkers.org/txp/.

On another note, Global Workers has achieved an important break through in its guestworker advocacy, the H-2 visa program that brings 180,000 workers to the US each year to work in temporary non-professional jobs. The US consulate is now handing out Know Your Rights flyers to Guatemalan workers bound to the US. The flyer, which Global Workers developed with the Southern Poverty Law Center, orients workers to their basic rights and where to seek assistance. In addition, two weeks ago the US consulate started to notify US employers of their obligations under Guatemalan law when recruiting Guatemalans to work in the US. Due to the excessive recruitment abuses that are illegal under Guatemalan (and Mexican) law, the guestworker program has become a vehicle for human trafficking. Global Workers applauds the consulate for its leadership and will soon launch an initiative to ensure that other consulates follow suit.

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