14 January 2011

ghetto fobs: slave drivers

Ten years.

For ten years, Leticia Moratal was called a slave by her Filipino ‘employers’ (term used loosely).

Arriving from the Philippines in 2001 on a visitor’s visa with the promise of $800 a month and a day off a week to care for Elsa and Augusto Nolasco’s granddaughter, she was quickly met with a bait and switch of one of the worst kinds.  Her passport taken from her, she was forced to do more than just babysit. 

Ten years. 

Seven days a week she would babysit, cook, clean, do laundry and yard work.  Forced to sleep on the baby’s bedroom floor, or the dining room sofa, she was cut off from contacting the outside world.  No telephone, and no leaving the home alone or talking to others “especially if they were Filipino or Filipino-American."

The $800 a month?  Never happened.  Threatened with deportation if she spoke up, she was also forced to do work for Nolascos’ daughter's company “25 hours a week sewing and packaging children's dance clothing.”

Ten back breaking years until finally escaping last December.  Now free she is suing the Nolascos for forced labor, slavery, and human trafficking.  The New York Attorney General’s Labor Office is investigating to determine if a criminal case can be filed.

Sound familiar?  How often do we have to hear this?  Filipinos here ready and willing with false promises to bring over one of their own only to take advantage of them for cheap labor.  On the other end, someone trying to find any way to get to the US.  Spoken about in whispers and rumors about who may or may not be TNT, their ‘employers’ pretending that it gives them status.

I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again – situations like this have to come out of the shadows.  While this story is usually the exception (there are plenty of arrangements like this that seem to work out fine for both sides), I don’t know who this helps in the long run, outside of the people here getting the cheap labor. 

At worst, you have someone forced into slavery.  At best it’s more ammunition for the anti-immigration folks to latch onto. 

[Courthouse News Service: Filipina Babysitter Says Family Enslaved Her]
[Filipino Express: Babysitter accuses family of slavery]
[ABS-CBN: Pinay babysitter sues employers for trafficking, slavery]

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