Excerpt from SAALT’s e-newsletter

17 04 2008
Policy Connection (April 2008)
An e-newsletter from South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

The SAALT Policy Connection is a monthly e-newsletter from South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) that focuses on policy issues related to the South Asian community.
To learn more about SAALT’s policy work, contact us at saalt@saalt.org or reach Priya Murthy, SAALT’s Policy Director at priya@saalt.org.

Immigration: Update on Indian Workers
Exploited in Mississippi and Plea for Donations

Guestworkers in DCSince 2006, more than 500 skilled workers trained in pipefitting and welding were recruited from India to work for the Signal International Corporation, a marine construction company on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The workers came to the U.S. with the promise of steady jobs and a path to permanent immigration status once they came to the United States. However, the workers instead only received temporary H-2B visas; were forced into significant debt to pay for their passage to the United States; and were subjected to severe workplace exploitation. You can read about the challenges faced by H2B guestworkers in a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Indian workers from Mississippi, supported by the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, have mobilized through organizing, filing lawsuits, and initiating a “Journey for Justice” from the South to Washington, DC and New York City. Along with many other allies, SAALT has played a supportive role with the workers’ efforts on the “Journey to Justice.”  In early April, SAALT staff and volunteers participated in meetings in Washington, DC that the workers are had with the Indian Embassy, Congressional members, and allies. SAALT helped to coordinate various meetings and a briefing on Capitol Hill for Congressional members and staffers. SAALT also convened a forum for workers, allies, and community members where participants had the opportunity to share their own challenges with the immigration system and discuss ways to change the faulty H-2B guestworker program.

Thanks to the outpouring of solidarity from the South Asian, African-American, Asian American, Latino, immigrant rights, and labor rights communities, the workers have been able to galvanize support from a broad spectrum of individuals and organizations. SAALT encourages the South Asian community to continue to lend their support to the workers’ struggle. Financial contributions are especially needed – to provide a monetary donation, you can send a check to the National Immigration Law Center (3435 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2850, Los Angeles, CA 90010) with “Mississippi Guest Workers” in the memo line.

For more information about the workers’ Journey for Justice, visit the campaign’s blog or contact SAALT at saalt@saalt.org.




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