Strengthening protections for workers.
After President Trump’s announcement of his intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in May 2017, CDM launched a trinational, coordinated campaign with allied organizations from Mexico, the United States, and Canada to strengthen protections for migrant workers in the renegotiation process. Learn more.
The North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation Petition (NAALC)
CDM has used the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a mechanism to fight for migrant justice. Joining with Mexican migrant workers and allies in the trinational corridor, we have held the United States government accountable for violating its obligations by filing two complaints under the NAFTA labor side accord, the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC). Learn more.
Comité de Defensa del Migrante
(Migrant Defense Committee)
Migrants empowering migrants to become human rights advocates.
The Comité de Defensa del Migrante is a group of community-based leaders who organize and empower migrant workers to defend themselves and educate their co-workers. Comprised of migrants and former migrants, authorized and unauthorized, and the family members of workers, the Comité forms a human chain across Mexico and the United States and a permanent presence among workers’ communities. Comité leaders train other migrants to become human rights defenders, giving thousands of workers on both sides of the border the power to seize the initiative in ending workplace abuses.
Fair Workers, Fair Wages Campaign
Ending systemic abuse in the travelling fair and carnival industry.
CDM is leading the Fair Workers, Fair Wages! campaign to end systemic, repeated human rights abuses in traveling fairs and carnivals, where thousands of H-2B migrants labor in unsafe and unjust conditions. The campaign began through the efforts of Comité de Defensa del Migrante leader José de Lira, who alerted CDM to abuses by New York-based Dreamland Amusements, Inc. Forced to live in insect-infested housing and subjected to discrimination and unsafe working conditions, workers received $275 to $350 each week, regardless of the number of hours they worked. De Lira’s efforts led to an investigation by the New York Attorney General and a settlement that secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages as well as safeguards for labor and civil rights. His courageous work has inspired an industry-wide investigation of abuses in the fair industry, with CDM bringing cases against companies in North Carolina, Georgia, and California. Our continued litigation effort and educational campaign aims to ensure the border is never a barrier for justice for migrant workers.
Justice in Recruitment Project
Harnessing the power of data to uncover systemic abuses.
A groundbreaking workers’ rights initiative to investigate and uncover the actors and processes in low-wage labor recruitment along the Mexico-U.S. migrant stream. By identifying international labor recruiters, employers, and their networks and by assessing the trends in their interactions and practices, the JIR is generating previously unavailable information about pre-employment and post-employment conditions of migrant workers. Using this data, CDM, migrant workers, and cross-sector allies are addressing major, systemic abuses in guestworker recruitment through outreach and education, strategic litigation, and policy advocacy.
Building Worker Power and Transparency in Labor Recruitment
Every year, nearly 200,000 Mexican workers are recruited to the United States for low-wage jobs on H-2A and H-2B visas. Many are lured by promises of higher wages and better working conditions that turn out to be illusory. Many suffer grievous abuses, ranging from gender discrimination to forced labor and trafficking. Fearful of deportation, and often severely in debt to those who recruited them, migrant workers seldom feel empowered to speak out about labor abuses and stand up for their rights. Many have virtually no access to information about what those rights even are. Over the past two years, CDM has collaborated with migrant worker leaders across Mexico and the United States to build Contratados.org, a powerful digital platform and interactive set of tools that enable workers to organize and build power. Through Know-Your-Rights resources, a phone hotline, a binational radio campaign, and Yelp-like reviews of employers written and shared by workers themselves, Contratados.org makes the recruitment system transparent and lets workers and advocates hold employers and recruiters accountable.
The Binational Labor Justice Initiative
A crossborder alliance to provide legal aid to workers
In 2007, CDM and Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, A.C. (ProDESC) launched the Binational Labor Justice Initiative — a transnational dialogue on legal systems and tools to defend migrant workers’ rights and build binational alliances for legal support across the U.S.-Mexico border. As part of the Initiative, CDM and ProDESC published the Manual for Binational Justice, which describes U.S. and Mexico labor and immigration laws, to assist advocates on both sides of the border.
Proyecto de Mujeres Migrantes
(ProMuMi/The Migrant Worker Women’s Project)
Addressing the needs of migrant women.
Mexican migrant women overwhelmingly work in in industries and occupations that are physically isolated from social and legal services. To respond to the particular challenges that migrant women face, CDM launched Proyecto de Mujeres Migrantes (Migrant Women’s Project or “ProMuMi”), developing and providing materials that convey critical information about their U.S. workplace rights and targeted information about pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and U.S. agencies that assist migrant women. CDM has developed workshops on the rights of migrant women in targeted communities. CDM has worked with farmworker women and allies to bring attention to the sexual harassment and abuse of farmworker women, including as a founding member of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas. In 2010, CDM and the American University Washington College of Law published Picked Apart: The Hidden Struggles of Migrant Worker Women in the Maryland Crab Industry, detailing the harrowing experiences of guestworker women in the crab industry on H-2B visas and recommending policy reforms. In 2016, CDM raised rampant sex discrimination in the guestworker programs in a groundbreaking petition under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation, the NAFTA labor side accord. In 2017, CDM and the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School published Engendering Exploitation: Gender Inequality in U.S. Labor Migration Programs, a policy brief detailing the changes needed to address gender-based discrimination in temporary labor migration programs to protect women. Learn more.