Wanted: foreign workers — and the labor brokers accused of illegally profiting from them

Vast numbers of foreign workers come to the United States with the help of labor brokers. These middlemen recruit them for temporary jobs. But Reuters found that brokers also can compound abuses workers face even before entering America.

Investigative (NATIONAL)

Megan Twohey, Mica Rosenberg
Reuters News Service
February 19, 2016

Tags: Farm and Migrant Workers, Immigration Process, Workers Rights

Organizations mentioned/involved: Florida Legal Services (FLS), Florida Rural Legal Services (FRLS)


Public attention has focused largely on U.S. employers that exploit foreign workers. But Reuters identified an insidious problem that precedes and can compound the abuses workers face when they arrive in America – and one that authorities say can be even more difficult to address.

In more than 200 civil and criminal cases Reuters examined that were filed in federal court, lawyers representing the government and tens of thousands of foreign workers allege myriad misdeeds committed by middlemen such as Molina – labor brokers enlisted by U.S. companies to navigate government bureaucracy, recruit workers, help secure visas, and arrange transportation for those who are hired.

The alleged transgressions range from wage theft to human trafficking. Molina has been accused in a lawsuit by a group of Honduran migrant workers of charging them thousands of dollars apiece in illegal recruitment fees, among other abuses. U.S. authorities told Reuters they are investigating the allegations against Molina, whose whereabouts are unknown and who couldn’t be reached for comment.