September 1, 2010
Enforcing the legal rights of immigrant workers is essential to combating exploitation of the most vulnerable sector of the workforce and to protecting the rights of all workers including American citizens. For many years, the ACLU has worked to ensure that federal employment, labor and anti-discrimination laws provide real protection to non-citizens. The ACLU has also represented immigrants whose exploitation is so severe that it constitutes virtual slavery. In one particularly poignant example, young women who had been trafficked from India and were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of a wealthy real estate magnate in California, received legal assistance from the ACLU. The man pleaded guilty in 2001 and his sentence included a $2 million restitution payment that enabled the women to begin life anew in the United States. The ACLU's work on this case led to close ties with South Asian women's organizations and other groups fighting the rise in sex trafficking of young girls a growing global phenomenon.