Miami is a popular destination for tourists and as such, there are several hotels in the city to cater to these visitors. Some hotels bring in help from other countries, using an employment-based immigration program to do so. These employment visas often give people from all over the world the opportunity to come to the United States for a certain period of time while helping companies fill positions that often sit empty. For many, the chance to work in the U.S. can be a rewarding one, while others can find themselves the victims of unscrupulous employers.
In 2008, a hotel in Miami used employment immigration to bring in 15 people that performed managerial and housekeeping jobs. After the year of employment was up, the hotel did not renew the workers’ visas. What is not exactly clear is whether the workers were told the opposite; they say that they did not know that the visas expired.
The workers also say that instead of being paid what they were promised, they were paid below the minimum wage, paychecks were often late, overtime was withheld, and they even had to pay placement fees which cost up to $7,000. An investigation is now being conducted against their former employer, who has apparently disappeared. In addition, the workers were recently given T visas, which will allow them to remain in the United States throughout the investigation.
These workers were able to get help from a grassroots organization but there may be more people out there who are the victims of human trafficking. Workers who feel that they are being unfairly treated may want to talk with an attorney for help.
Source: GMA News, “15 Pinoy human trafficking victims in Florida get T visas,” Feb. 28, 2013