Wage theft prevalent among undocumented immigrants

Fuerza del Valle Workers' Center is raising awareness about wage theft

Fuerza del Valle Workers' Center is raising awareness about wage theft among undocumented immigrants.

Most people do not know you can call police after they try to get their pay from an employer and the police have a duty to follow criminal law and investigate the employer," Hector Guzman Lopez, Fuerza del Valle Workers' Center coordinator, said.

Under Texas Penal Code it is illegal for employers to not pay for labor regardless of the person's legal status.

Basilio Castro, an undocumented immigrant, was working at an Alamo apartment complex painting and doing construction.

They liked the job so they were like finish painting all the buildings, Castro TMs wife, Valentina Casas said.

His employer paid for his gas to get to work, but never paid him wages.

He started saying 'well, I need money' and it took them three months to give him $100, Casas said.

After eight months of working and struggling to make ends meet, Castro contacted Fuerza del Valle Workers' Center through La Union del Pueblo Entero.

The group was able to get him his wages which totaled more than $1,000.

Guzman Lopez said wage theft often goes unreported by undocumented immigrants.

Especially in the Valley, there TMs a large culture of impunity, a culture of ~I can work somebody to death and not pay them what I have to pay them, TM Guzman Lopez said.

Guzman Lopez said undocumented immigrants can report wage theft to local law enforcement agencies without fear of being arrested or deported.

Any report made at the McAllen Police Department will be investigated and once that investigation is completed it will be turned over to the Hidalgo County District Attorney TMs office, Lt. Joel Morales, with the McAllen Police Department, said.

Organizers want to send a clear message to dishonest employers.

Work with no pay is not OK.