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 in October 2018. They issued the following statement:
We are here because we want our voices to be heard; because telling our stories is power. We are here because we want to combat recruitment fraud, corruption and impunity. We want the authorities to assume their responsibility; we want accounts to be rendered.
We are the people who suffer fraud. We know the problem well; we are the voice of our communities, and we represent those who are afraid to speak out about it. It hurts to see that the people we love, our communities and families, lose what they do not have. That is our motivation. Our commitment to fight for justice is unwavering.
We are here to propose solutions.
Recruitment fraud afflicts us day by day. We go through it; many of us have been victims of fraud. Recruitment fraud is not only our problem. It’s Mexico’s problem because the scam is committed here without any consequence. And it’s a problem of the United States because scammers use incomplete government-provided information in their favor. As long as the use in guestworker programs continue to expand, and recruiters continue to cheat without consequences, the risk of being defrauded will continue to increase.
As members of the Migrant Defense Committee, we meet to share what we’re seeing across states and regions. We take what we learn back to our communities to educate them and prevent fraud. We raise awareness by sharing our stories to achieve change.
Our goal is to prevent fraud in our communities and for generations to come. Fraud must be a priority at all levels. We demand that local authorities get involved; they must do their job and go after the scammers.
People pay to work because intermediaries fees; sometimes several fees along the way. Employers in the United States should make sure their recruiters do not charge fees. The governments of Mexico and the United States must keep a registry with employers who are hiring and their respective recruiters. We need to have access to the terms of employment; how much they will pay us, the place and type of work. Information is a tool to prevent fraud as long as it is accessible to us.
The problem goes beyond fraud; it’s about the whole recruitment process. For migrant workers, abuses start from the moment we are hired. We need protections against the threats of abusive recruiters; against all types of discrimination: gender, age, race. Laws, both in Mexico and the United States, must address the realities of people who migrate.
We are here because we want our rights and our dignity to be respected.
We are here, on behalf of our communities, because we want justice!
*This statement was read at the event Forum (RE:)Fraud by Adareli Ponce Hernández, an active member of the Comité.