Last week the FBI arrested employees of Global Horizons Manpower Inc in what has been described as one of the largest human-trafficking cases in U.S. history. According to Associated Press reports, recruiters from the group lured over 400 Thai workers to the United States with false promises of lucrative jobs, then confiscated their passports, failed to honor employment contracts and threatened to deport them.
The company has been implicated in violating labor laws and underpaying workers in the past. Most of Orian’s workers are placed in large scale farming operations, picking crops in states such as Hawaii, Washington and Arizona. If convicted on these trafficking charges Orian could face 70 years in prison.
The business owner and key grab in the sweep is 45 year-old Mordechai Orian, CEO of Los Angeles-based labor contracting group and big financial backer of the GOP.
Among some of the more key contributions, Orian gave tens of thousands of dollars to the National Republican Congressional Committee on eight separate occasions between 2004 and 2006 when the then-Republican-led Congress sought to pass a major immigration reform bill that would have expanded the guest-worker program. The legislation ultimately failed and, well, we’re living with the results of Congress failing to address immigration reform then.
Ironically, Orian has painted himself as a moral crusader against illegal immigration. In 2007 Orian tried, and failed, to take over rival labor contractor J &A Contracting. Orian had stated publicly that his company lost a major client to J&A because J&A was willing to provide cheaper, illegal workers.
Orian’s case begs the question of, with an expanded guest worker system to track workers and regulate employers, just how lucrative would human trafficking for corporations remain?
photo courtesy of deslia via Flickr