Immigration & Labor

Cheating Carnival Workers

The migrant workers running the rides at county fairs endure wage theft, substandard housing, and unsafe work conditions.

At all-American street carnivals and county fairs, the workers who run rides and attractions are most often immigrants from Mexico and Central America. An estimated 5,000 workers are recruited abroad yearly to run rides and attractions .

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According to a report from the American University Washington College of Law and Centro de los Derechos del Migrante and a new lawsuit, many of these workers endure deceptive recruitment practices, high pre-employment fees and costs, wage theft, lack of access to legal and medical assistance, substandard housing, 80-hour work weeks, and unsafe work conditions. Some are required to continue working while seriously injured.

In a special report in collaboration with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, now known as Type Investigations, Latino USA examines how these workers are left out of some federal work protections and how some are now claiming their rights.

This story was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, now known as Type Investigations.

About the reporter

John Carlos Frey

John Carlos Frey

John Carlos Frey is an investigative reporter and documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles.


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