A group of international students filed a federal lawsuit against a community college in Iowa alleging that they were forced to work long hours for small salaries and threatened deportation if they did not comply.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday and alleged that Western Iowa Tech Community College forces students from Brazil and Chile to come to school under the J-1 visa program.
Students were told that the program was a two-year study in which they would complete an internship related to their field of study and, according to Sue, would not work more than 32 hours a week.
Instead, 11 students allege that they were assigned to work at Royal Canin, a pet food company or Tur-Pak Foods, a food packing company. The suit says the group worked more than 32 hours a week and the jobs “had no educational value and were not completely related to their intended fields of study.”
He accused the school of taking some of its fees, although students were told that accommodation and food would be free and they would get a scholarship to cover tuition.
If a student did not work, they were told that they would be removed from the program and sent back to their country of origin, the case would go.
In addition, the Northwestern Iowa School was charged with “keeping international students separate from the general student population.” The lawsuit alleges that he was only allowed to take classes with other Brazilians and Chileans who were in the program.
“The illegal acts and omissions of defendants are beyond the limits of decency and beyond the limits that can be tolerated by civilized society,” the suit states. “The defendants’ unlawful acts and omissions were excessive and abusive.”
WITCC President Terry Murale said in a statement, “Western Iowa Tech Community College completely refutes the claims that surfaced in the lawsuit. These allegations are completely untrue, sensational, and objectionable. We are concerned about district court and college employees Looking forward to the rescue. Welcome the opportunity [to] Deny these malicious allegations. “
The J-1 Visa program at Western Iowa Tech Community College ended in January 2020. As a result, the students lost their jobs and were forced to move out of campus housing. A school last year statement said that 60 students arrived in July and August 2019 for the program.
“Because they were no longer working, the plaintiff did not have the money to buy food. The WITCC asked the students to use local food items.”
Some students returned to their country of origin.
The group is suing for forced labor and trafficking and seeking damages.