Chinese Migrants Living Stateside Sue Over Forced Labor Conditions at Marijuana Farm

Several Chinese immigrant workers claimed they were brought to northern New Mexico under false pretenses and subjected to 14 hour work days that consisted of trimming marijuana on the Navajo Nation. In this jurisdiction, the cultivation of marijuana is illegal, per a lawsuit filed in state court. 

Job advertisements were put out for the operation in Shiprock which promised $200 a day, housing and food in exchange for rendering “gardening” and “flower cutting” services. However, in the lawsuit, the workers who arrived in New Mexico claimed that their phones and car keys were confiscated, they were prevented from leaving and, in some cases, family members were separated.

In a statement published on September Wednesday, lawyers for the 15 workers asserted that their clients were treated like animals. In addition, they praised them for their bravery for going public about this case.

“Ending forced labor requires that the perpetrators of forced labor and those who seek to benefit from such schemes face serious consequences,” lawyer Aaron Halegua stated. “We hope that this lawsuit will demonstrate that such abusive practices do not pay.”

In the lawsuit, the defendants are Navajo businessman Dineh Benally and Irving Lin, a Taiwanese entrepreneur residing in Los Angeles.

Furthermore, the lawsuit named associates of Benally and Lin, on top of businesses connected to the farming operation. Authorities claimed that the farming operation grew to roughly two dozen farms and over 1,100 greenhouses spread over 400 acres (162 hectares).

A motel of at least 19 rooms facilitated the operation, per the lawsuit. 

Farmington police exposed the operation in October 2020 after they were summoned to the motel to investigate a “strong odor” of marijuana. They also discovered nearly 2,000 pounds of marijuana, valued at $3 million to US $10 million, per the lawsuit. 

Navajo residents recounted that the workers were caught sleeping in the fields and ditches, “shivering through the night,” the lawsuit stated.

Workers did not receive sufficient rest, or enough food and water throughout the work day, the lawsuit claimed. 

The lawsuit also asserted that the workers were surveilled by cameras and security guards, some who were armed. When they tried to leave or go for rest breaks, the lawsuit claimed they were compelled to continue laboring on. 

Such incidents are commonplace under mass migration regimes. After all, mass migration is all about securing large pools of cheap labor for corporate oligarchs.

Such an inflow of cheap labor puts downward pressure on American workers’ wages and puts the broader working class’s economic status in jeopardy. To maintain socio-economic stability nationwide, immigration must be restricted at all costs.

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