“In this camp, we have no names. We are called only by numbers.” -H-2 worker*

“I was so devastated by our situation. I wanted to go home, but I couldn’t because I had no money. I also couldn’t get another job. I came to the United States to work so I could help my family and save to go back to school. I had never been treated so badly before, and I felt like there was nothing I could do about it.” -H-2 worker

“I fell backwards down about five meters and my leg ended up bent underneath me. The supervisor told me, ‘Get up, get up,’ so that I would continue working. When he saw I did not want to get up, he said, ‘Don’t be a stupid wimp,’ so I had to keep spraying. My leg was swollen and I asked the crew leader to take me to the doctor. He told me ... he didn’t have time to be taking me to the doctor. Finally I went to the doctor on my own. I have thousands of dollars in medical bills and I have never received any money for the time I lost from work. This was more than a year ago and my leg still swells, hurts and I almost can’t work.” -Jose Luis Macias, H-2B forestry worker

 “The recruiter told me that I would make $8.30 an hour and would never run out of work to do. I didn’t realize that I would also have to pay so much money each month for rent, transportation and work supplies. He made it sound like we would earn lots of money, but I wasn’t even able to pay off my debt.” -H-2B ship welder or fitter

“He held my passport up in the air and threatened to cut it if I didn’t pay him. I didn’t have all of the money he asked for but he gave me back my passport on the condition I would pay the rest of the money to his son in the United States after I started working for Candy Brand. The recruiters threatened to kill my wife and children in Mexico if I didn’t pay.” -Juan Pablo Asencio Vasquez, H-2A tomato worker

“I couldn’t go back to India, still carrying the massive amounts of debts I had incurred to come to the United States. If I was forced to go back, I planned to hang myself once I landed in India, at the airport.” -H-2 worker

“When the supervisor would see that a person was ready to leave the job because the pay was so bad, he would take our papers from us. He would rip up our visa and say, ‘you don’t want to work? Get out of here then. You don’t want to work? Right now I will call immigration to take your papers and deport you.’” –Otto Rafael Boton-Gonzalez, H-2B forestry worker

“Our employers immediately confiscated our passports. They told us they were going to apply for our visa extensions and Social Security Cards. The employers held onto our documents for months, even after telling us that our extensions had been granted. The grower threatened to report us to Immigration if we continued to ask for our passports back.” -H-2 worker

“Since I couldn’t prove that I was in the country legally, I was nervous to even go out to the store for fear that I would be stopped by the police.” -H-2 worker

“When we arrived at the Signal labor camp, I was horrified and stunned to see the living conditions. Twenty-four men slept in one room with bunk beds. There were only four showers, two toilets, and two sinks for twenty-four men. The space was incredibly cramped, and there was very little room to walk.” -H-2B ship welder or fitter

“I felt like we were living in a jail." -H-2B ship welder or fitter

“We worked up to 12 or 13 hours and we could only plant 1,300 or 1,500 seedlings. Our pay would come out to approximately $25 for a 12-hour workday. At the end of the season, I had only saved $500 to send home to my family.” -H-2B forestry worker

“I often worked in the packing shed from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. without a single day of rest. Our schedule was exhausting but we never received any additional compensation for the long hours we worked. After about a month, I approached the boss and told him that I was worried since I still had not been able to recoup the money I spent to come to the U.S. he said there was nothing he could do.” -Juan Pablo Asencio Vasquez, H-2A tomato worker

“Some days we had to spend much of the day clearing brush to make the land able to be planted. We were not paid at all for [this time]. We also never received over-time pay, despite the fact that we worked much more than 40 hours per week.” –Armenio Pablo-Calmo, H-2B forestry worker

“When I arrived at the US, the employer handed me a contract and told me to sign it. I didn’t get the chance to look it over because I felt pressure to sign it right away. I spent a lot of money just to come to the US and didn’t want to risk my job by causing any problems right away.” -H-2 worker

“I was very sick for 30 days, with six stitches in my wound. I never received any help from the company, even having to pay for my own medicine from my own pocket. All the while I had to keep paying rent on the hotel room where I was staying, even though I made no money…The only thing I received from the company was belittling, humiliation, mistreatment and bad pay.” -Leonel Hernandez-Lopez, H-2B forestry worker

“[We] have serious, endemic plumbing problems in the trailers. ... Behind the walls, under the sinks, in the drains — everything is wrong. Pipes can be pulled apart by hand. Showers leak behind the walls, saturating sheetrock, rugs and wooden subfloors with water. Light pressure on the walls leads to them crumbling in certain places, and the wood will soon begin rotting as well.” -H-2B ship welder or fitter

“I slept in a room with about 16 other workers. There was no air conditioning in the house, and it got really hot and buggy in the summer months. The tap water smelled so foul that we couldn’t drink it. We had to spend some of the little money we made each day on bottled water.” -H-2 worker

"After a few of the workers were picked up by family members and fled the farm, the employer got really angry and warned us that we couldn’t have any visitors. He told us that he would call the police or Immigration if we did.” -H-2 worker

“When work on the farm dried up, I wanted to leave, but I felt trapped.”-H-2 worker

“I didn’t have my documents or any money. And we were so far away from the town. I didn’t know where to go for help or how to get away. And the crew leader kept a close watch over us at all times. He often warned us that if we left, he would tell the employer and have us reported to Immigration right away.” -H-2 worker

 

*Names are confidential for security purposes.