Mexico Fights to Insure the Rights of Citizens Working in the US

Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores) uses its consulates throughout the US to make sure that both documented and undocumented Mexican workers are treated justly in the work place.

Consular officials in McAllen, Texas stated that citizen-protection officials from the Dallas consulate went to Arkansas to look into issues of worker safety and exploitation at a forestry company.

The officials found that Mexican citizens had been forced to turn over car and home titles to their employer so that they would not leave their jobs for at least nine months. Inspection of employer-provided housing showed that 13 workers were living in a three-bedroom mobile home that was in unsanitary conditions.

Although the workers are cutting trees 13 hours per day, six days a week, the consular officials found that the men had not been trained in the proper use of equipment. The workers also lacked helmets, safety goggles, gloves, boots and other safety equipment. The workers’chainsaws were also described as old and in bad condition.

Despite working from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, the workers are being paid just US$270 for three weeks of work. This is approximately $1.15 an hour. Three of the workers had been hurt in workplace accidents but did not receive medical treatment until they were visited by consular staff.