Foreign students at Western Iowa Tech Community College filed suit against the institution, alleging they came to the U.S. with promises of scholarships and professional internships only to be coerced into menial jobs with long hours and low pay.
A group of students from Brazil and Chile sued Western Iowa Tech Community College in federal district court this week alleging that the college coerced them to work in food processing and packaging jobs under threat of deportation.
The 11 students all participated in an exchange program under the J-1 student visa program. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, says that the students were led to believe they’d be enrolling in a two-year program in which they would study at Western Iowa Tech and participate in internships relating to their field of study, working no more than 32 hours a week.
Instead, they allege, they were assigned unskilled jobs at Royal Canin, a pet food company, or Tur-Pak Foods, a food packing and assembly company, that had “no educational value and were completely unrelated to their intended fields of study.”
The students claim that they were expected to work more than 32 hours a week and told that if they were unable to work due to illness they would be removed from the visa program and sent home to their native countries.