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A Horrifying Path to America for Hotel Workers (The Atlantic)

The Atlantic, March 1, 2018

A Horrifying Path to America for Hotel Workers

“Eslabon’s story is illustrative of a hole in America’s labor protections—a hole into which desperate foreign workers can fall. Originally, Racida Eslabon entered the United States in 2008 on an H-2B visa, a temporary work visa to the United States. The visa is tied to a single employer (Eslabon’s visa reads ‘Holiday Inn DBW Coastal Ventures’), though many of these employers aren’t employers so much as recruiters, bringing workers to the United States for temporary low-skill jobs at other companies. In today’s fragmented, contractor-heavy economy, many hotels, restaurants, and other facilities no longer directly employ their workers. This employment arrangement may seem strange, but ‘it is very common for hotels in the U.S. to contract with labor recruiters in the Philippines (and other countries like Jamaica) to recruit temporary seasonal workers on H-2B visas,’ said Laura Berger, formerly of the City Bar Justice Center, a New York–based pro bono legal organization that represented Eslabon in her immigration case. This leads to situations like Eslabon’s, in which no one takes responsibility for the imported workers and they often face exploitative work conditions.”

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