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Undocumented immigrants often held as indentured servants

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On March 20, 2014, 107 men, women and children were discovered crammed into a small home just outside of Houston, Texas, with the door padlocked from the outside. The home, a 1500 square feet rambler was a stash house used to secure the cargo the smugglers were bringing north. Five smugglers were arrested.

These undocumented immigrants, like thousands of others that are trafficked north from the U.S./Mexico border, are not free. They are a bought and sold cargo, indebted with exorbitant fees to be smuggled north, and held as indentured servants, until their debt is paid.

The trucks, vans, semis and automobiles packed with their human cargo traveling north are reminiscent of the ships that brought so many slaves from Africa to the United States in the early days of this country. Similarities in callousness for the health and safety of the human cargo are more than apparent between those slave ships of yesteryear and the transports used today to move large groups of undocumented immigrants north.

Smugglers of undocumented immigrants routinely treat the lives of their cargo as cheap and easily replaceable. Horror stories of semi-trailers locked from the outside, packed with people and left in the southern sun resulting in the people being baked alive and often, not surviving the ordeal; of guides leaving groups to die in the desert; of smugglers attempting to outrun law enforcement only to become involved in horrendous accidents which often claim the lives of the smuggled aliens.

But, even when the undocumented immigrants arrive at their final destination, they are still not free. They are “farmed” out to contractors to perform low-pay, labor intensive jobs and often paid only a stipend of what they should earn because their “caretakers” charge fees for everything including substandard and crowded housing, transportation, food and other charges the “caretakers” can make up.

In Eastern Washington where I currently reside, undocumented aliens are considered necessary to perform the labor others are unwilling to do. Contractors, often men and women who are holding the undocumented immigrants hostage, are hired to perform large units of work. They provide crews of workers to perform the labor, insulating the actual owner of the orchard, farm or business from direct contact with the workers. This allows the owners and managers to remain ignorant to the legal status of the employees and, in addition, to remain morally intact without the direct knowledge that the workers being deployed to perform the task are actually indentured servants!

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