New bill could cut Dells student work program - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

New bill could cut Dells student work program

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WISCONSIN DELLS (WKOW) -- Students from around the world come to the Wisconsin Dells every summer, as part of a work travel program.

But the program could end because the agencies that sponsor the students wouldn't be able to afford the costs involved under a new immigration bill.

"The tourism industry as a whole would be devastated if we're not allowed to hire J-1 students as the program would not be there," said Wilderness Territories human resources director, Shaun Tofson.

"I don't even know if we'd be able to operate.  There would be parts of our businesses where we would have to potentially shut down," she said.

The proposed changes in the immigration policy come after some employers broke the law, taking advantage of visiting students. 

Some students in the Dells live in motels for three months.

"There's no kitchen first of all.  The toilet is so small and has no window.  And it's an old motel," said worker, Korab Vokshi from Albania.

Then there are the hours.

"They told us it would be an average of 32 hours a week, but when they orientated us they told us it would depend on how much they're busy," said Gene Lim of the Philippines. 

23-year-old Lim works a second job when it's slow. 

Students say they paid agencies in their home countries about $3,000 to organize their jobs, Visas, and travel.

Students come away with little, but they say it's not about the money.

"It's really a cultural exchange and I really like this program," said Jason Silvera of Jamaica.

Wilderness Territories says they're in the midst of closing on a $1 million facility for overseas students to live in.

 

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