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Mexico City (AFP) - Mexican authorities have rescued 129 workers, including six children, who said they were exploited and physically and sexually abused at a garment factory run by South Koreans, officials said.
Four South Korean nationals have been handed over to prosecutors in the western state of Jalisco after workers identified them as the owners or managers of the company named Yes International, the National Migration Institute (INM) said.
Authorities raided the company in the town of Zapopan on Wednesday after receiving an anonymous tip, INM coordinator Ardelio Vargas Fosado told reporters, describing the South Koreans as a "gang of suspected human traffickers."
Officials rescued 121 women and eight men, including six minors who were 16 and 17 years old.
The workers told prosecutors that they were "victims of physical and sexual abuse, as well as threats, psychological harm and grueling work days," Vargas Fosado said.
The four South Koreans could not prove whether they legally lived in Mexico. The South Korean consulate was notified to provide assistance to the suspects, officials said.
Workers at Yes International, a company run by South Koreans, watch as Mexican police conduct a raid …
Jalisco's chief prosecutor, Luis Carlos Najera, said authorities are investigating whether child abuse and sexual crimes were committed.
The employees toiled in "unsanitary" conditions, with pollutants in their place of work, and the material they handled posed a fire hazard while the company had no fire safety equipment, said Victor Manuel Torres Moreno, a labor ministry official.
Officials also said the employees endured verbal abuse; lacked contracts; worked more than the legal eight hours per day; only had 15-minute lunches instead of half an hour; were not paid for overtime; and were not given health benefits.
The minors were handed over to their parents following the operation, but authorities are also checking their family surroundings.
Other workers were given psychological assistance.
Mexican authorities have rescued 129 workers, including six children, who said they were exploited a …
AFP visited the work site and interviewed one of the workers, who denied physical or sexual abuse. But she did say there was verbal abuse by one of the detainees. She attributed this to Asian culture, in which she said she understood that people yell at each other a lot.
The interior ministry released pictures of the operation showing workers standing next to several boxes of clothes and stacks of textile material inside the factory, which had high walls.
It was not the first time that authorities found workers abused by employers in Jalisco.
In 2013, police rescued at least 275 people, including 39 teenagers, who were being held in slave-like conditions in a camp in Toliman, where tomatoes were sorted and packed for export.
The victims were rescued when a worker escaped and made it to Jalisco's state capital to file a complaint.
The tomato farm's workers were kept in overcrowded housing and were paid half of what had been offered, much of it delivered in vouchers redeemable at the company store, where items were sold at a high markup.
The four South Koreans could not prove whether they legally lived in Mexico.
At a time when the Supreme Court and many politicians seek to bring American law in line with foreign legal norms, it’s noteworthy that nobody has argued that the U.S. look at how Mexico deals with immigration and what it might teach us about how best to solve
our illegal immigration problem. Mexico has a single, streamlined law that ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:
* in the country legally;
* have the means to sustain themselves economically;
* not destined to be burdens on society;
* of economic and social benefit to society;
* of good character and have no criminal records; and
* contributors to the general well-being of the nation.
The law also ensures that:
* immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor;
* foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;
* foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics;
* foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported;
* foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported;
* those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.
Mexico welcomes only foreigners who will be useful to Mexican society:
* Foreigners are admitted into Mexico “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.” (Article 32)
* Immigration officials must “ensure” that “immigrants will be useful elements for the country and that they have the necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents. (Article 34)
* Foreigners may be barred from the country if their presence upsets “the equilibrium of the national demographics,” when foreigners are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” when they do not behave like good citizens in their own country, when they have broken Mexican laws, and when “they are not found to be physically or mentally healthy.” (Article 37)
* The Secretary of Governance may “suspend or prohibit the admission of foreigners when he determines it to be in the national interest.” (Article 38)
Mexican authorities must keep track of every single person in the country:
* Federal, local and municipal police must cooperate with federal immigration authorities upon request, i.e., to assist in the arrests of illegal immigrants. (Article 73)
* A National Population Registry keeps track of “every single individual who comprises the population of the country,” and verifies each individual’s identity. (Articles 85 and 86)
* A national Catalog of Foreigners tracks foreign tourists and immigrants (Article 87), and assigns each individual with a unique tracking number (Article 91).
* Foreigners with fake papers, or who enter the country under false pretenses, may be imprisoned:
* Foreigners with fake immigration papers may be fined or imprisoned. (Article 116)
* Foreigners who sign government documents “with a signature that is false or different from that which he normally uses” are subject to fine and imprisonment. (Article 116)
Foreigners who fail to obey the rules will be fined, deported, and/or imprisoned as felons:
* Foreigners who fail to obey a deportation order are to be punished. (Article 117)
* Foreigners who are deported from Mexico and attempt to re-enter the country without authorization can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. (Article 118)
* Foreigners who violate the terms of their visa may be sentenced to up to six years in prison (Articles 119, 120 and 121). Foreigners who misrepresent the terms of their visa while in Mexico — such as working with out a permit — can also be imprisoned.
Under Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony. The General Law on Population says,
* “A penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of three hundred to five thousand pesos will be imposed on the foreigner who enters the country illegally.” (Article 123)
* Foreigners with legal immigration problems may be deported from Mexico instead of being imprisoned. (Article 125)
* Foreigners who “attempt against national sovereignty or security” will be deported. (Article 126)
Mexicans who help illegal aliens enter the country are themselves considered criminals under the law:
* A Mexican who marries a foreigner with the sole objective of helping the foreigner live in the country is subject to up to five years in prison. (Article 127)
* Shipping and airline companies that bring undocumented foreigners into Mexico will be fined. (Article 132)
All of the above runs contrary to what Mexican leaders are demanding of the United States. The stark contrast between Mexico’s immigration practices versus its American immigration preachings is telling. It gives a clear picture of the Mexican government’s agenda: to have a one-way immigration relationship with the United States.