Enslaved in Suburbia: Inside the World of Trafficked Indentured Servants and the Visa Violators Who Care for Our Old Two women, two fractured American dreams By Gendy Alimurung LA Weekly, February 18, 2009
The girls next door never rest. They work day and night and weekends taking care of the old people, and they never, ever leave the eldercare home on Vernon Street, hidden in plain sight inside an ordinary suburban tract house in Long Beach with light-tan stucco, white trim, burgundy awnings, a two-car garage and an American flag waving in the front entryway. Like the homeâ€™s owners, the girls are Filipino, with dark skin and dark hair. They might be pretty, if not for their miserable expressions.
Jokingly, the man next door asks the girls, â€?Do you ever get a day off?â€?
No, he finally realizes, they never do.
This was the moment when the neighbor understood that he had to do something. He had been stuck at home, on disability from his job, and, in a plot straight out of Rear Window, had started paying attention to the activities next door.
â€?Iâ€™m not a snoopy-snoop, but something weird was going on,â€? says the man, who is reluctant to give his name to a reporter. â€?The whole neighborhood knew something was going on. We are working-class families here, and theyâ€™d have brand-new BMW SUVs pull up.â€? There were other cars, too, carrying a steady stream of visiting family members coming and going. The man next door used to get annoyed at the cars constantly parked in front of his house.
When at last the man signaled his understanding of the situation, the girls opened up to him. â€?They used to come over here crying, begging me to help them,â€? he recalls. He tried for a year to call various agencies, though not, for some reason, the police.
â€?Bah, the police,â€? he snorts. â€?What are they going to do? This is an international issue.â€?
And he is right, it turns out. It was the Feds who came to the rescue. The girls, who had been trafficked into the country, were being held against their will and forced to work for little or no pay. [More]
In these stories, usually both slaves and slavers are foreign.