March 2, 2019

"Behind Illicit Massage Parlors Lie a Vast Crime Network and Modern Indentured Servitude."

That's the headline in the NYT.
The frequently middle-aged women who work in parlors with names like Orchids of Asia and Rainbow Spa are often struggling to pay off high debts to family members, loan sharks, labor traffickers and lawyers who help them file phony asylum claims. In some cases, their passports are taken and their illegal immigration status keeps them further in the shadows, with some of them rotated every 10 days to two weeks between spas operated by the same owners. Forced to pay for their own supplies and even their own condoms, many women must sleep on the same massage tables where they service customers and cook on hot plates in cramped kitchens or on back steps.

“We stopped thinking about just cages, bars and chains as the means of coercion,” said John Richmond, the State Department’s top anti-trafficking official. “They are using nonviolent forms of coercion.”...
So it is the coercion that is interwoven with illegal immigration.
One reason the Asian massage parlors remain so poorly understood is the extreme reluctance of the women to speak with the police and even with their own lawyers.

“Even though I’ve represented many, many women arrested in unlicensed massage parlors, because of the level of distrust of people working, almost all immigrants, almost all undocumented, they don’t trust even their attorneys enough to let them know what’s happened to them,” Ms. Latimer said.
There are slaves, kept among us, invisibly.

Phony asylum claims, you say? Please, NYT, tell us more. We didn’t know such an animal existed.


Rob said...

Phony asylum claims, you say? Please, NYT, tell us more. We didn’t know such an animal existed.

Kevin said...

“We stopped thinking about just cages, bars and chains as the means of coercion,” said John Richmond, the State Department’s top anti-trafficking official.“

This just occurred to them? They've spent their careers looking for cages?

Perhaps they should take one day for everyone in the office to watch Roots.

Shouting Thomas said...

Here we go with the sex slave thing again.

No, they aren't slaves. Most of them chose to be there because it was their best option.

The sex slave panic is a recurring BS feminist theme, Althouse. It never pans out.

You've lived such a dainty, clean existence. You must bruise very easily. Doesn't look to me like you've ever done a job that gets you dirty and exposes you to possible physical injury. You have extremely exaggerated notions of how harmful it is to get dirty or injured to earn a living.

Even the reporting on how the women get there and who they should trust is presented ass backwards. Most of the time, family members were both the women's abettors and their keepers. Of course, the women trust those people more than law enforcement. They come from societies where law enforcement is often pretty weird.

Among other evils, feminism is a ghastly sex bore, replete with constant horseshit preaching about how humans ought to be better. We aren't. The world to which you aspire is a ghastly bore, professor.

Go to a nice Lutheran Church and do the piety thing there. That's where it belongs.

Ann Althouse said...

Is somebody screaming don't take my massage parlor away?

It's like the liberals who oppose Trump on immigration because they really want to have their landscapers and maids.

Shouting Thomas said...

You could write the same post about most Chinese restaurant workers.

A close friend of mine, an entrepreneurial Chinese, owned the local Chinese restaurant. He was greatly enamored of my late wife, so we often had a late night drink at his joint after a gig.

He paid for his Chinese workers to migrate to the U.S. Every one was from his home village. He knew their families.

These workers became virtual indentured servants to get to the U.S. They had to pay off a $50,000 debt to earn their freedom. They worked endless hours of drudgery in hot kitchens.

And, the amazing thing is that they mostly succeeded.

MayBee said...

Is somebody screaming don't take my massage parlor away?

It's like the liberals who oppose Trump on immigration because they really want to have their landscapers and maids.

Phony asylum claims indeed.

Humperdink said...

Trump: "If you like your landscaper, you can keep your landscaper."

With that, the Dems would hop on board. I'm certain of it.

Shouting Thomas said...

Given a choice of illegal immigrant groups, I'll take Asian whores and restaurant workers.

rhhardin said...

There was a happy ending youtube massage parlor video long ago, where the guy, asked by his asian massager if he wants happy ending, winds up surrounded by asian beauties with balloons and confetti and party music.

Impossible video to search for today. If you could find it, you could think of the asian beauties as the sex slaves.

A tedious job but somebody has to do it.

Greg Hlatky said...

They're just doing the jobs Americans won't do.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Is somebody screaming don't take my massage parlor away?

Robert Kraft could not be reached for comment...

Sebastian said...

The Prog Dilemma: one day, you gotta let illegals in and phony asylum claims are great, the next illegals are exploited women and phony asylum claims a tool of coercion. What's a good prog to think?

gilbar said...

“We stopped thinking about just cages, bars and chains as the means of coercion,” said John Richmond, the State Department’s top anti-trafficking official. “They are using nonviolent forms of coercion.”...
See? It's not JUST duct tape!

William said...

Didn't some magazine do a widely discredited story on the women who worked in fingernail salons? I didn't follow the story that closely but iirc the women protested not their oppression but but the story about their oppression.......I'm pretty sure that some women in the sex trade industry are exploited, and many others are not. At any rate, we can trust the feminists to find the tools needed to end prostitution. Previousl generations of reformers, puritans, and police lacked the will and the insight of feminists.

sykes.1 said...

Prostitution is legal in much of Europe, but that hasn't stop trafficking in adults and children. Part of the problem is that legalization never goes the whole way. There are always exclusions, and it is the exclusions (child rape, etc.) that actually drive the sex trade.

Another good example is California's failed attempt to legalize marijuana. They put in place so many restrictions and taxes that the illegal trade was not affected in the least.

Fernandinande said...

Behind Illicit Massage Parlors Lie a Vast Crime Network

Behind the illicit massage parlor which I frequent lies a 7-11.

with names like Orchids of Asia and Rainbow Spa

Rainbow Spa - 15 Photos - Massage - 10357 Hole Ave, Riverside, CA

buwaya said...

The massage parlor thing is an ancient, perpetual sort of scandal in San Francisco.
And moreover as Thomas says, this is almost always a family immigration scam, and so are Chinese restaurants and many other businesses too, including the stereotyped laundries. Between all of these things it is how San Franciso manages to have a large population of poor Chinese in spite of the ridiculous cost of living.

San Francisco's Chinatown is based on illegal immigration and immigration scams, this is its life blood.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Same story, different business, are the Chinese restaurant chains bringing in young Chinese indentured servant workers. If you have eaten at one , then you are as guilty as Robert Craft.

The violations the Chinese Restaurant chains were engaged in around was the housing of 8 or 10 young single persons in a 4 B/R rental house zoned Single family. That and massive Income Tax Evasion that went along with the way they kept secret how they treated their Chinese workers.

Practice Tip: The Chinese only recoqnise our laws that you can catch them violating. It must be an old proverb.

Bill Peschel said...

So when AOC calls for disbanding ICE she really wants to preserve the Asian sex trade industry? Good to know.

Ann Althouse said...

If the people who get into the country are the ones who want to pay the price — indentured servitude — then they will hide along with their abusers. They are all partners in the crime of illegal immigration. There are other people who don't come, and they are not willing to engage in prostitution and so forth. Different people are making different choices, but the ones who are here made the same choice, the one that involves hiding and protecting the business model (organized crime).

The article about nail salons was in the NYT too. Here's a discussion in Newsweek about the criticism of that article.

Unknown said...

With the praises that the open border democrats are healing on Cohen to break attorney/client privilege, I wouldn’t trust a lawyer either.

Biff said...

I was an unwitting participant in a Chinese restaurant labor scam years ago when I was a grad student and found a great apartment to rent at a very attractive rate from a Chinese couple who also owned some Chinese restaurants. It turns out that they were running a scheme where they would "help" young Chinese men who couldn't speak English to become "owners" of very nice units designated by law as "affordable housing" when new condos were built, then warehouse the men (aka indentured servants) in barracks-like rooms on the second floors of their restaurants, while renting out the apartments at a handsome profit to (mostly) well-off or well-connected Chinese college students and grad students.

I worked with one of those students, she knew I was looking for a new place, and she offered me an unoccupied bedroom in her apartment. I was completely unaware of what was going on until a housing inspector knocked on the door, asked for a Chinese guy I had never heard of, and we got booted out of the apartment while the case worked its way through the courts. The attitude of the students and the ringleaders was emphatically along the lines of "We're doing these guys a big favor! You stupid Westerners have no idea what you are doing!"

Birches said...

This whole discussion reminds me of the author who pulled her YA book because the slavery depicted in her book was more like this and not like chattel slavery.

Howard said...

The Wall... Now more than ever

Tina Trent said...

Who pays when one of these women or the illegal restaurant workers get sick? We do. Who pays when they get robbed? We do. Wo pays when a fire starts in one of those overcrowded apartments or flophouses? We do. Who loses property value when the illegals dump trash and sewage everywhere, which I've seen as both a placement worker and property owner in rural and urban settings in two states? We do.

I toured a facility for "navigating" public benefits in Wimauma, Florida a few years ago. There were hundreds of new arrivals from all over Mexico, Central and South America, almost all if not all illegal, standing in line to get help from virtue-signalling church ladies and very well paid government "navigators" to get free food, housing and furniture vouchers, healthcare I couldn't afford, and everything else they wanted.

But how could that be? Easy. Each illegal had already been coached on what to say, and if they didn't say it right, the workers typed it in right anyway. They were all seeking asylum. The federal workers and volunteers and translators all knew they were recording sheer lies. Half the people in line were playing with expensive cellphones. Many were covered in tattoos. They were in central Florida, not desperately sitting in a refugee camp. Many would go straight home to Mexico after rwfistering for benefits. A healthcare navigator told me the local agency was involved in triple-dipping medicaid, and they also got a cut for every "client" they processed. Their clients would pretend to be patients getting imaginary treatment from the thousands of crooked doctors, many from South America too, who then billed medicaid. It's a big business in South Florida.

These people were not here to work. They were here because they heard about the benefits. There are already too many people to work the crops. There are busses daily from nearby Ruskin to all over Mexico. Many come in just to sign up for the checks then go back to Mexico to live. They come back when they need to re-up something. A frustrated social worker told me that.

They were nearly all morbidly obese and each woman had multiple children in tow. The people who do arrive to do seasonal work at the farms quickly learn there is more money in working less, and much of the work is mechanized. They have a kid and sertle in for the free ride. The work there is is also all seasonal -- that is why, before Bush I opened the borders, farm laborers from Mexico came here seasonally on legal green cards, then went back to Mexico, a good gig that worked out for everyone. Some became legal after a number of years, doing it the right way. They're more negative about the illegal invasion than anyone I went to college with. They know first-hand about the gangs and drugs running that has replaced decent, legal immigration.

The people lined up in Wimauma knew they just needed to have one kid in America and they were set with free stuff for life, and they could decide whether to live here or back home, or both, which is what many do. EITC fraud alone is staggering. The married couples pretend to not be married to maximize benefits. That I heard from a church employee who was proud of it.

Some of the young men work temporarily, which only drives down wages for legal workers. The only crop most of them harvest, however, is our hard-earned tax dollars.

Is this OK with everyone? Worth a cheap restaurant meal or mani-pedi? Worth destroying the rule of law and, soon, America itself?

Even folks living sheltered from such realities are surely still intelligent enough to learn the truth. It amazes me that people are still amazed. The first time I met an illegal immigrant gaming the system was in downtown Atlanta 1991. Anyone still voting Democrat is voting for this.

Ditto most Republicans.

Tina Trent said...

Unfortunately, if we end illegal immigration, some folks here are going to be stuck going to massage parlors staffed entirely by militantly "pro-sex feminist" womyn's studies majors.

That's the one pro-illegal immigration argument I'd consider entertaining.

BUMBLE BEE said...

I've had many similar exposures as Tina, some more outlandish than these. There's no follow through on immigration or visas. I have had lefties I've known for decades tell me to my face that these things aren't true, I'm just a Fascist Trump supporter. Illegal immigration? A quaint anachronism. 70k Somalis are in Minnesota for the skiing!

PJ said...

the ones who are here made the same choice

I have no doubt that's true as a first approximation, but it is also probable that a not-insignificant number of women -- in China and elsewhere -- are forced into these arrangements by family members or local criminals back home. That may not change the immigration policy analysis, but it informs the slave/indentured servant distinction we have recently been instructed to strictly observe.

Unknown said...

> They are all partners in the crime of illegal immigration.

who was charged in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa with "illegal immigration"?

You don't like the terms of the loan made to sponsor their journey?

> the one that involves hiding and protecting the business model (organized crime).

Now we don't like privacy? Why do corporations exist?

Leland said...

I did consultant work for a very well known financial institution in California. They loved to hire H1B visa employees and give them salaried positions. At 5pm; the American employees of the company would go home. As a consultant, we had a deal that we got paid for every hour worked, so we stuck around as the client requested. Working along side us where the H1B visa employees of the client.

The reason for this was simple. The American employees were happy enough with their job, but couldn't be threatened into working longer hours. Either they got a pay raise, or they went to another company to get paid more. This was just before the dot com bust; and the NoCal job market was booming. That's why they were importing consultants from Texas. But the H1B visa employees would be told that if they wouldn't work extra hours; they would be fired. And HR would immediately call INS to report that the terms of their visa was no longer valid. These immigrants had money invested in homes. Most had family here. They were paid fairly well, but far less than their American equivalents especially in terms of pay for hours worked.

I don't oppose immigration. I oppose the multi-tiered system of citizenship that has been created. An immigrant that goes through the full naturalization process has full rights. Those with an H1B visa are most often treated as indentured servants, but by high class companies that pay politicians $100k to give speeches supporting immigration work programs. Those entering the country illegally are both ripe for abuse, yet also possess an anonymity that allows them to commit other crimes Americans most likely couldn't get away with doing, such as hit-and-run accidents or identity theft.

Open borders doesn't solve this. It just formalizes the multi-tiered citizenship. You have Americans that have to live by all the laws of this country. And then you migrants that can chose to live by American laws or leave whenever they feel like it, such as when taxes are due. And open borders definitely doesn't solve the problem of human trafficking.

Bob Smith said...

What actually happened here? The existing culture of prostution with its payoffs and freebies for pols with connections attracted some Chinese competitors.

YoungHegelian said...


Like Leland, here in the DC area, I've had my own experiences with companies using H1-B visa employees, except most were Indian & in the IT field.

These people, in a phrase, get treated like shit by their employers. They get treated the worst when their own kind runs the place. Native-born American managers, raised as we are since birth on guilt over racism, sexism, class-ism, etc, rarely can manage the deep, profound contempt for human suffering that often comes naturally to the upper classes of India or China.

It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, too, as the foreign management discovers that its American employees will tell them to go fuck themselves at the drop of a hat when management steps out of line. Management finds it can't work in its accustomed manner with American employees, so the staff becomes more & more native over time.

Those H1-B guys got paid a lot more than those poor girls at the massage parlor, but the social pressures that kept them in what, by American standards, was indentured servitude were every bit as great.

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