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 Immigrant Laborers Win $60M Judgement Against Houston Company

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PostSubject: Immigrant Laborers Win $60M Judgement Against Houston Company   Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:06 am

Immigrant Laborers Win $60M Judgement Against Houston Company

By Asiah Carey, My Fox Houston, 9 April 2011

Several immigrant laborers say they feel like they're free after living through an American nightmare. Those men, 26 strong, hail from Vietnam. The group traveled to Houston in 2008 to work for Coast to Coast Resources, a company based out of Harris County. The company promised the group jobs and work visas to serve as laborers near the Houston Ship Channel, according to the men. They were supposed to be paid $15 to $22 an hour for 30 months.

That sweet deal soon changed when the fine print kicked in. The men’s contract required the Vietnamese laborers to pay the American company up to $7,000 to get a job in the states, according to a lawsuit. The American dream turned into a nightmare, the men said. They claim the company charged the men: -- $125 a week to live in squalor at a Pasadena apartment complex -- $75 a week for transportation to work. “It was pretty terrible and to get them out of that was amazing," John Ha, the group’s attorney, said. "They sent a lot of people to threaten us," No Hai Le said.

Before the men got out, they filed a lawsuit claiming Coast to Coast Resources’ offer was indentured servitude. But that’s not all. According to the group, Coast to Coast Resources threatened the men saying any contact with outsiders would be punished by arrest and physical violence because Americans would scorn them for being from a communist country. The men worked only a few months of the 30-month term before the company fired them. The men fought back by filing that lawsuit.

The group won a $60 million judgment against Coast to Coast and other parties named in the lawsuit. An attorney for the Harris County company had no comment on the ruling. “It’s so beautiful to show that we as Americans care for justice,” Tammy Tran, lead attorney for the men, said. Though the men have won a major victory, they aren’t celebrating. The group now feels like targets back in Vietnam.
Lee, through a translator, said he’s worried for his family back in Vietnam. They are reportedly being harassed and threatened by people back home. Despite the treatment, the Vietnamese laborers said they want to stay in Texas.

That's where students from South Texas College of Law come in. Professor Naomi Bang is taking on the immigration part of this case because the work visa never panned out. "What they came for is to stay here and provide a life for their children and spouses who are still waiting in Vietnam," Bang said. "After all they've been through they still want to live in the United States,” student Samantha Frazier said. “They still want to have that dream."
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PostSubject: Re: Immigrant Laborers Win $60M Judgement Against Houston Company   Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:10 pm

The port consists of a complex of approximately 240 miles (386 km) of shipping channels as well as anchorages and port facilities.[6][7] Most vessels require pilotage[8][9][10] and larger vessels require tugboat assistance for the sharper channel turns. The natural depth of the harbor is about 17 feet (5 m), but it had been deepened over the years, to about 24 feet (7 m) controlling depth in 1880.[11] By 1891 the Main Ship Channel was minimally 30 feet (9 m). In 1914 Ambrose Channel became the main entrance to the Harbor, at 40 feet (12 m) deep and 2,000 feet (600 m) wide. During World War II the main channel was dredged to 45 feet (14 m) depth to accommodate larger ships up to Panamax size. Currently the Corps of Engineers is contracting out deepening to 50 feet (15 m), to accommodate Post-Panamax container vessels, which can pass through the Suez Canal.[12][13] This has been a source of environmental concern along channels connecting the container facilities in Port Newark to the Atlantic. PCBs and other pollutants lay in a blanket just underneath the soil.[14] In June 2009 it was announced that 200,000 cubic yards of dredged PCBs would be "cleaned" and stored en masse at the site of the former Yankee Stadium, as well as at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.[15] In many areas the sandy bottom has been excavated down to rock and now requires blasting. Dredging equipment then picks up the rock and disposes of it. At one point in 2005 there were 70 pieces of dredging equipment working to deepen channels, the largest fleet of dredging equipment anywhere in the world.Poly Tank
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