Immigration Monday: Re-define the Line
March 3, 2008

I have been saying for a while now that I’m getting out of the immigration business. After all, Geraldo Rivera has just written a definitive book about the topic. But colleges and cities across America keep selecting THE DEVIL’S HIGHWAY for their Big Read projects. I’ll be rushing off to New Hampshire, and then to Texas, and then to D.C., and then to California…. Not one of those events has requested my thoughts on the haiku of Issa or the nature writings of Annie Dillard! It’s All Border Patrol, All the Time!

It’s coming out in June in Italian, and now it’s being translated into Turkish! Mexico does not care about the walkers and the migra—no Spanish edition on the schedule-- but Rome and Istanbul do. So does Kankakee. It’s all a big mystery.

I also have a good essay coming your way from my Immigration Lawyer.

So here’s what I think I’ll do: Immigration Monday is going to change. I’m going to call it Immigration Month. Maybe on the first Monday of every month, we’ll post some immigration info/rants/data/links. Just to keep a hand in this evil game. Maybe.

For now, our beloved Grace, of Grace and Clarke, has prepared a useful blog about human trafficking. Excellent stuff. She has also sent me a few extra links, which I will post later.

For now, I’m taking some time off. Staying away from the border and the USBP and coyotes and Lou Dobbs and Geraldo.

Thank you, Grace.

And remember, troops: WWJD? WhoWould Jesus Deport?





When many people think about human trafficking, they often have some vague idea
about women and children in brothels in exotic and far away places. That’s true, but only partly so. That’s one piece of the picture. Men are also victims. And the sex trade is only part of it. Exotic faraway place? Well, in the US roughly 18,000 men, women and children are trafficked annually. According to some sources two million are trafficked annually worldwide and there are 27 million people in slavery around the world. The world includes the US.

We have slaves in this country. Agriculture, factories, sex slaves, domestic labor, construction, restaurant work, hotel/motel housekeeping are just a few of the ways you can be a modern-day slave. Forget migrant labor, why pay someone low wages when you can pay them no wages? Brilliant! Slavery is the answer. Where is La Migra when you need them?

The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (one of three "Palermo Protocols"), defines trafficking in persons as:
“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
But wait, that’s not all:
The TVPA (Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 [22 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.]) defines "severe forms of trafficking," as: “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”
But let’s face it, if you say no and you’re not paid, you’re a slave.
If you do a Google search for slavery in America, you will find the Civil War, but you will also find contemporary cases. Recent cases. The case of a rich couple in NY who had two Indonesian domestic workers enslaved for 5 years in their home until one of them escaped. Wearing a towel and pants and wanting desperately to go home. Factory workers in NY, field workers in California. The trafficked come from around the world: Mexico, South America, Central America, Asia, Africa, everywhere.
Some are kidnapped, some are sold by families, some are coerced, some enter legally and have their visas and documents stolen by their ‘employers’ who keep them isolated, terrified and separated from their families and friends. Unable to speak English and with no money, no place to go and no friends or resources they become slaves. They are locked up in squalid conditions for years at a time. Often in the case of domestic workers, they are never allowed outside. They are lied to, threatened and beaten. Field workers are locked in trailers.
Organized crime is getting into trafficking; it’s more profitable and less dangerous than dealing drugs. Businesses even contract with traffickers to supply labor for their factories, their fields and their homes.
There are three kinds of countries involved in human trafficking: transit countries, origin countries and destination countries. The US falls into all three categories. People are trafficked in, out and through. Trafficking doesn’t have to be international; you can move someone within a country for them to be trafficked. Sex workers are one example. Children are at particular risk and in some countries there are ‘child-sex tourists.’ Children can also be used in snuff films for those who enjoy watching death and torture.
But don’t just believe me, do the research. Some of the information above comes from the Freedom Network
. They give workshops and trainings for social service caseworkers. I took the seminar when I was a crisis center worker.
There’s an interesting article from the US Embassy in El Salvador about trafficking and slavery:
The Southern Poverty Law Center has a report on the abuses of the guest worker program called “Close to Slavery” which can be accessed online. They are a good group, check out their website.

Other groups working against trafficking are:

Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking
National Immigrant Law Center
Anti Slavery Campaign Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Break the Chain
This comes from their website: “Imagine you are locked in your own private prison. You do not speak the same language as your subjugator. On the rare occasion you are escorted off of the premise, you are forbidden from talking to anyone. You are often fed the leftover food of the children you are required to watch while completing your around-the-clock household cleaning. You have never been paid for your labors and are sometimes physically abused by the woman of the house.
While this scenario seems to hark back to an earlier time in US history, it describes the working conditions of many domestic workers in the Washington, DC area. Unfortunately, modern-day slavery and worker exploitation is currently being practiced here in this country, right in the shadow of the nation’s Capitol.
The Break the Chain Campaign works with domestic workers who are being held against their will, literally enslaved in the homes they clean. BTCC provides direct legal and support services to abused workers in the DC area, assists on cases nationally, and advocates for policy reform for this and other forms of human trafficking and exploitation.”
The Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons, Global Rights:
Once you reach that page click on What We Do, then Initiatives and the Human Trafficking. Be sure and read the article Slavery in Our Midst.

A very comprehensive website is
Human Trafficking.Org. They cover many countries, but here is the link to the US.

Human Trafficking & Modern Day Slavery
A country-by-country list of human trafficking

The US government even acknowledges trafficking as a problem, although not really admitting it happens here:

Ok, I’ve gotten you started; there are lots and lots of websites to check out. Go to it.

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