ACCESS TO JUSTICE
In some cases, U.S. attorneys have clients who have returned to Mexico for a family emergency but need them to provide written testimonies. In other cases, they are about to go to trial and the U.S. lawyers cannot obtain a visa for the client who is back home in Guatemala but needs to return to testify. Or, U.S. lawyers simply have trouble tracking down migrant clients they represented once they have left the country to disburse the wages that they recovered for them.
These are just a few examples of the many challenges that attorneys face when representing migrant workers in transnational employment litigation. Some attorneys find it cost-prohibitive to keep in contact or track clients down when the case goes to trial and forgo representing them entirely. Our goal is to help advocates and migrants overcome these barriers to portable justice. Our unique cross-border model helps to ensure that migrants who suffered exploitation abroad are able to access justice even if they have returned to their home countries. Our organization is at the center, connecting advocates and defenders, and supporting the development of cases to ensure that transnational litigation is working effectively on behalf of migrants. We have also play an important role in persuading attorneys throughout the region to work on cases with a transnational dimension, and to not simply give up because of the legal or logistical obstacles. This has led to a significant increase in the number of advocates in the region providing transnational legal services to migrants.
Through our case facilitation procedure, we match U.S. lawyers with a Justice in Motion Defender Network member in the client’s country of origin to partner on specific cases. U.S. lawyers work directly with the Defender to execute the specific assignment.
Legal Action Abroad
Not all legal violations that clients suffer can be adequately addressed in the country of destination. Sometimes the solution can only be achieved in the migrants' country of origin.
We support Defenders to initiate strategic litigation challenging abusive contractors hired by U.S. or Canadian companies to recruit in the countries of origin for temporary foreign worker visas.
The Defender Network can provide legal support to assist in abuses that occur in the country of origin. Common abuses suffered include:
- Recruitment Abuse: Workers are charged illegal fees for job offers.
- Recruitment Fraud: Workers are defrauded of hundreds of dollars and their identity documents, for jobs that do not exist.
- Threats: Workers experience intimidation to force them to drop their legal claims.
- Retaliation: Workers are often not rehired to return on temporary worker programs after they have complained of abuses.
- Trafficking: Trafficking often starts in the home countries. Additional remedies, both civil and criminal, may be available for the trafficked person.
Advice & Referral
Our staff maintains expertise related to transnational litigation issues as well as the regulatory framework related to migrant workers in the U.S. and their struggle to access the justice system across borders. We are available for advice and referral services.
Transnational litigation Training to U.S. attorneys
We frequently conduct lectures and trainings for U.S. advocates and attorneys on transnational litigation issues. To assist U.S. advocates with the legal challenges they face when representing clients who have left the U.S., we publish a Challenges in Transnational Litigation Manual that describes strategies and practice pointers for U.S. lawyers who represent migrant plaintiffs. There is currently no charge for the manual, but we appreciate any donation to support the development of this resource.
“This manual is the Rosetta Stone for lawyers representing H-2 workers in litigation in U.S. courts. If you represent transnational low-wage workers with employment claims and you're not using this manual, you should start now.”
OUTREACH & EDUCATION
The Defender Network
Our Defender Network currently includes more than 40 organizations in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
Justice in Motion provides ongoing trainings to the Defender Network equipping them with the knowledge they need to engage in this cross-border work. The trainings cover many topics such as human trafficking, employment rights, immigration, and recruitment fraud and abuse. Defenders use that knowledge to conduct community outreach and education, positioning themselves as a resource in their communities. They are trained by Justice in Motion to handle legal actions and engage in local policy advocacy on behalf of people from their communities migrating to the US and Canada.
Centro de Acompanamiento a Migrantes, A.C. (CAMINOS) Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Centro Internacional de Asesoría y Movimiento Migrante A.C. (CIAMM)
Centro de Orientación del Migrante de Oaxaca, A.C. (COMI) Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Centro Hermanas Mirabal de Derechos Humanos A.C. León, Guanajuato
Centro Juvenil Generando Dignidad A.C., (CJGD) Comalcalco, Tabasco
Comisión de Derechos Humanos y Laborales del Valle de Tehuacán A.C. Tehuacán, Puebla
Comité de Derechos Humanos de Comalcalco A.C., (CODEHUCO) Comalcalco, Tabasco
Comunitaria por los Derechos Humanos "Tzobibaltik" A.C. San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales, (FIOB) Juxtlahuaca, Oaxaca
Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración, AC (IMUMI)
Ciudad de México
Pastoral de Migrantes/Respuesta Alternativa A.C. Various (Guanajuato, Hidalgo, San Luis Potosi, Michoacan, Veracruz)
Red De Mujeres Del Bajío, A.C. Celaya, Guanajuato
Servicios Educativos del Bajío, A.C. León, Guanajuato
Universidad Iberoamericana León - Departamento de Ciencias Jurídicas León, Guanajuato
CARITAS de El Salvador, Diócesis de San Miguel, San Miguel, El Salvador
Grupo de Monitoreo Independiente de El Salvador (GMIES), San Salvador, El Salvador
Organización De Mujeres Salvadoreñas Por La Paz (ORMUSA), San Salvador, El Salvador
Universidad Gerardo Barrios - Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas, San Miguel, El Salvador
Asociación de Abogados y Notarios Mayas de Guatemala, "AANMG" Guatemala City
Centro de Estudios y Apoyo al Desarrollo Local, "CEADEL" Chimaltenango
G & C Consultores, Guatemala City
Hector Waldemar Barrera Palma, Zacapa
Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala, "ODHAG", Guatemala City
Oficina Jurídica Herman Aroldo Palacios Hernández, Huehuetenango
Oficina Jurídica Maria Cristina Chay Medrano, Quiché
Pastoral Social de la Diócesis de San Marcos, San Marcos
TM Consultores, Guatemala City
Bufete Ruth Yamileth Espinoza Rodriguez, Choluteca, Honduras
Pastoral de Movilidad Humana - Conferencia Episcopal de Honduras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Federación de Trabajadores/as del departamento de Chinandega (FETDECH-CST), Chinandega, Nicaragua
NicasMigrante, Managua, Nicaragua
We educate and push governments to protect the workers that employers bring to the US or Canada by ensuring transparency and accountability in the temporary foreign worker visa system.
We work with governments in Mexico and Central America to ensure that the recruitment of their citizens to work abroad is free of fraud and abuse and that they help their citizens achieve justice across borders when their labor is exploited abroad.
By synthesizing the advocacy and expertise gained by U.S. lawyers and Justice in Motion Defender Network advocates, we foster powerful alliances between partners in government and civil society to develop policy solutions that address worker exploitation from a transnational perspective. In recent years, we have educated policymakers about key problems in foreign temporary worker visa programs on both sides of the border; encouraged Labor and Foreign ministry officials in countries of origin to consider improved enforcement of recruitment protections for migrants; and raised awareness about the importance of portable justice among policymakers and civil society throughout the North-Central America corridor.
Improving Visa Governance
Justice in Motion published Visas, Inc.: Corporate Control and Policy Incoherence in the Temporary Labor System. to provide a panoramic examination of U.S. temporary work visas. The findings revealed a fragmented system that lacks transparency and government oversight, resulting in abuse of both foreign and U.S workers. U.S. immigration policy has moved away from its roots in permanent labor migration and embraced, for better or worse, a constantly metastasizing temporary worker visa program. Rather than developing a coherent, unitary system, the U.S. has responded piecemeal to employer demands and created a patchwork of visas subject to distinct rules.
With the launch of Visa Pages: U.S. Temporary Foreign Worker Visas, we endeavored to continue to add information and perspective to the major non-immigrant work visas highlighted in Visas, Inc.
Justice in Motion published Recruitment Rules: Countries of Employment to detail the legal framework for international labor recruitment in four common temporary work programs:
- U.S. nonimmigrant H-2A visa (agricultural)
- U.S. nonimmigrant H-2A visa (nonagricultural)
- Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program
- Bilateral Special Program for Agricultural Workers with Mexico and Caribbean nations
Then, Recruitment Rules: Countries of Origin to examine the labor recruitment laws, regulations, and protections implicated when workers are recruited for jobs abroad from the following five countries:
- El Salvador