(The AEGIS Alliance) – Two college students from Chile and another nine from Brazil have filed a lawsuit that alleges an Iowa community college conspired with businesses in the area to pressure them into involuntary servitude beneath the guise of a work-study program.
In May 2019, Western Iowa Tech Community College launched its J1 Visa program permitting foreign exchange college students to study, and complete internships associated with their schooling by which they’d be able to work not more than 32 hours per week. In actuality, the students stated they had been victims of “labor trafficking” and that the college had did not deliver what they promised.
According to a lawsuit filed this week within the Northern District of Iowa, J&L Staffing, a Sioux City-based recruiting agency, positioned college students in jobs at Royal Canin or Tur-Pak, the place they spent no less than 50 hours per week packaging pet food and finishing up different manufacturing facility duties unrelated to their studies.
If they tried to take a day without work or called out sick, the students stated they had been advised they would be removed from the J1 Program, and “deported” back to their native country, the lawsuit mentioned.
“These are people who left their families, left their homes, left their jobs back in their home countries with the assumption and the promise that they would be getting a better opportunity, but in turn, they were simply just used for their labor,” Attorney Devin Kelly stated.
And whereas they had been enrolled in courses at the community college, the students were typically segregated from the overall population solely taking lessons with other Brazilians and Chileans within the J-1 visa program. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that school officials dictated when and the place the scholars may work and under what circumstances.
The school said in a press release to KWWL that the claims made in the lawsuit are untrue and denied any wrongdoing in the case.
“Western Iowa Tech Community College vehemently denies the claims brought forth in the lawsuit. These accusations are completely untrue, sensational, and offensive,” Dr. Terry Murrell, President of WITCC stated.
“We look forward to defending the College and its employees in district court and welcome the opportunity to refute these malicious allegations.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed underneath a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.