Maui Economic Opportunity is assisting a group of low-income farm workers involved in a state-wide human trafficking case. An agency press release reports the case is believed to be the largest in U.S. history.
Immigration officials say they expect 25 out of the 62 Hawaii victims they represent will be getting their green cards within the next year. MEO will use federal funds to assist the workers with job training and employment assistance.
“We are happy to find a way to help these people in light of the injustices they have endured,” said MEO CEO Sandy Baz.
The National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) is a job training and employment assistance program for low-income farm workers, their dependents and employers available throughout the state of Hawaii. Program funds are available to help eligible participants obtain professional certificates and licenses such as Certified Nurses Assistants, Commercial Drivers Licenses and Green Jobs Training.
This same program can be applied to help Thai farm workers who were “lured” here to Hawaii according to federal documents. MEO program directors have determined that the NFJP can be used in this situation as long as those workers receive their green cards by the time the application process is complete.
The NFJP is available for all qualified farm workers in the state and is not limited to just Maui residents. Those who qualify may also obtain federal funds for their spouses and children to be trained in new job skills. Anyone who wishes to apply for NFJP funds can call MEO at (808) 249-2990 or the statewide toll free number at 1-877-795-4354.