Taken For a Ride: Report Documents H-2B Abuses in U.S. Fair and Carnival Industry

"Families across the United States remember with nostalgia the food, rides, and atmosphere of the local fairs and carnivals, but hidden behind the memories and bright lights are migrant workers who pay a high price to create these experiences.  On the United Nations World Day of Social Justice, the American University Washington College of Law Immigrant Justice Clinic and Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) released a report, Taken for a Ride: Migrant Workers in the U.S. Fair and Carnival Industry, that describes the abuses of migrant workers who form the backbone of one of America’s favorite pastimes.  The information for the report was gathered using in-depth interviews of migrant fair and carnival workers.  Fair and carnival companies bring migrant workers to the U.S. on temporary work visas, known as H-2B visas, to build and operate rides, set up games and serve food at concessions stands.  The workers travel with the companies from state to state, typically living in filthy and cramped trailers.  Taken for a Ride uncovers the following abuses  and structural defects in the H-2B temporary worker program:  

• unfair recruitment processes;

• wage and hour abuses;

• significant health and safety risks;

• lack of access to workers’ compensation;

• limited access to medical care;

• isolated and substandard living conditions; and

• limited access to legal representation and justice in the courts." - Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., American University, Washington College of Law Immigrant Justice Clinic, Feb. 20, 2013.