Jobless immigrants get a bus home
December 20, 2007
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Tom Ziemann hopes for a resolution Thursday for more than 60 Mexican nationals who were promised work but never received it.
Ziemann, director of Catholic Charities in Glenwood Springs, said JNS Construction, a Texas company who promised the men work in Avon, planned to send buses to take the men back to Mexico Thursday afternoon.
“They’ve told us things in the past that didn’t happen,” Ziemann said. “If there are buses, we want to make sure that before they get on, that they get paid.”
He believes the men should be paid for the work they were promised, especially since they came here legally.
“Even though they haven’t worked, they’re still entitled to those wages because there was a contract,” he said.
He said JNS Construction has made a cash offer to the workers. Ziemann wouldn’t disclose the amount. He said Catholic Charities thinks the men could have made more had they actually been working, but it’s up to them to decide if they want to take it and head back to Mexico or make a counter-offer.
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The men spent about $400 each to obtain work visas good from Nov. 27 to Jan. 1 and the promise of employment in the United States. The visas were meant to be extended six months but that hasn’t panned out. The group originally numbered 100, but some of the men probably tried to get back to Mexico on their own or seek work illegally, Ziemann said. They were supposed to work through JNS Construction due to legal restrictions on the visas, he said.
He said there will be legal action if a reasonable agreement isn’t reached.
“We’re realizing that we could play this whole thing out through the courts, but the bottom line is that these guys have lives, they need to be paid and they need to get back to their families,” Ziemann said.
On Monday, some 18 of the men shared their stories with the Post Independent, the newspaper in Glenwood Springs. They felt desperate after deciding to give up Christmas with their families in order to make money, only to see the plan fall through after they arrived in the United States legally to work.
One of the workers, Manuel Mijangos, said he needed about $750 for his wife, who needs immediate surgery on tumors in her uterus. Ziemann said he may be looking for donations to help Mijangos.