Members of the Migrant Defense Committee (“Comité”), a group of migrant leaders and their families supported by Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM), gathered for their National Meeting. They were convened by the Regional Comité of Chapulhuacán, Hidalgo, Mexico, and issued the following statement:
“We demand that our voices be heard in the face of the actual and proposed political changes that undermine our labor and human rights. Representing communities throughout Mexico and a wide range of temporary work visas, we, as Comité members, have supported industries, businesses and homes throughout the United States. We enrich the country by contributing to its economy and its communities. United in a single voice, we denounce the continuous attacks on our rights and on the dignity of the migrant community. We demand that migrant protections be increased and that public policies are not discriminatory.
“The policies of the new presidential administration in the US reveal an anti-immigrant, anti-worker sentiment. Such policies include expanding work visa programs without increasing labor protections, limiting the power and budget of agencies that handle labor abuses, and suppressing the freedoms of undocumented migrants by inciting fear in our communities. We believe that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should recognize the role that migrant workers play in tri-national trade. Governments should be required to include protections for migrant workers, fair labor standards and effective mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts during the renegotiation of the agreement.
“As migrant workers, we leave our families, risk our health and contribute with our effort and labor. We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We call on all communities across borders to unite against abuses of power and to fight for justice for migrants.”
The Migrant Defense Committee calls on the current presidential administration and its agencies; Congress; and state governments and congresses to consider the following recommendations:
- About recruitment:
- Eliminate recruitment fees in all work visa categories and require employers to cover all costs related to recruitment in order to avoid abuse of power by recruiters and that workers start a job indebted.
- Ensure that non-discrimination criteria are met so that everyone has the same job opportunities.
- Create a public registry of recruiters that is accessible and regularly updated to avoid instances of fraud and trafficking.
- Sanction recruiters and employers who fail to comply with fair recruitment practices.
- In the workplace:
- Provide adequate funding for the Department of Labor and other agencies responsible for labor rights protection so that they have the necessary tools to monitor workplaces, ensure compliance with labor laws, and conduct investigations and legal proceedings in case of noncompliance.
- Ensure safe conditions, providing adequate equipment and training, as well as access to medical services for every worker.
- Ensure the right not to be harassed in and outside the workplace.
- Guarantee fair wages and freedom of association, retaliation, abuse and discrimination.
- Access to justice:
- Ensure access to legal services for workers even when they have returned to their country of origin.
- Provide accessible materials with information on labor rights.
- Have an efficient dispute resolution mechanism that determines specific deadlines for labor disputes.
About the Migrant Defense Committee
The Migrant Defense Committee (“Comité”) is a group of community leaders, supported by Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM), who organize and empower migrant workers to defend themselves and their coworkers. Founded in 2006, and formed by current and former migrants and their families, the Comité forms a human chain across Mexico and the United States. Comité leaders train other migrants in human rights, building a culture of informed migrants to protect workers’ rights all along the migrant stream.