With all of the attention that is being given to illegal Hispanic immigrants, the problems at some Chinese restaurants seem to be overlooked. I use the word " some " because some Chinese restaurants are legal family owned and operated buisnesses, and some are not..The Chinese restaurant that I'm writing about here is not. Though it is legally owned by a legal Chinese immigrant, his hiring practices are illegal as well as the way that he treats his employees.
This restaurant is owned by a Chinese man who also owns at least 5 other restaurants in the U.S. The restaurant is managed by a Chinese lady from Hong Kong named Ping ( by the way, the names used in this article have been changed to protect the innocent as well as myself ) and her daughters Yu and Fang work their part time when they aren't in school. Ping, Yu and Fang are all legal Chinese immigrants by the way.
The first time that I had dinner at the restaurant, my waitress was a Japanese lady named Yuki. My first impression was that Yuki was a student at the local University, but when I asked her if she was a student, she said that she was just working at the restaurant. As we were chatting, I noticed that Ping was standing close by and listening to every word that was spoken , which I thought was odd. Then on my next visit to the restaurant, I noticed that Yuki wasn't working. I asked Ping if Yuki still worked there and she said " No, she went back to New York ".
The next time that I had lunch there , my waitress was a Chinese girl named Yang. As I was chatting with Yang, I noticed that Yu was standing close by and listening in on our conversation, just the same as her mother did when I was chatting with Yuki. I stopped by a couple of days later, and Yang wasn't working. I asked Fang where Yang was, and she said " Yang went back to New York ". OK, now both girls that I talked to " went back to New York ". Something is wrong here .
During my next visit to the restaurant, my waitress as a Chinese girl named Su Fu. I don't know why for sure, but Su Fu sat at my table with me while I was eating. Su Fu spoke English, so I decided to take advantage of the situation and ask some serious questions, and what I found out was that Su Fu lived in the same house with all of the employees of the restaurant and none of them were allowed to leave the house except to go to work. None of this went over very well with Yu, so she came by my table and took Su Fu back to the kitchen, and when Su Fu emerged from the kitchen, she was wiping the tears from her eyes. When I tried to talk to her, she just looked at me with tears running down her cheeks and walked away. She would never talk to me again. When I ate there a few days later, I noticed that Su Fu wasn't there, so I asked Yu if Su Fu was still working, and Yu said " No, she went back to New York .
At this point, I decided to contact the authorities. My first choice was the U.S. Marshalls. I called the local office and left messages with 3 Deputy U.S.Marshalls, and I never received a return call from any of them. Then I called the FBI and nobody would answer the phone.
I gave up at this point, that was until I was having lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. I was chatting with the owner about the situation at the Chinese restaurant, and he told me that he had 2 guys from Guatemala working in the kitchen and both of them worked at the Chinese restaurant for 3 weeks and were never paid. Both of them worked 14 hours per day, 6 days per week with no breaks or lunch, so they walked off the job.
Considering this new information, I called a friend of mine who is with the State Police. As I was telling him about the Chinese restaurant, he told me about a juvinile from Honduras who was in the custody of the local Police. He also worked at the Chinese restaurant under the same conditions as the 2 Guatemalan guys. He finaly walked off the job and was arrested at the local Wal-Mart for stealing food. He had a contract written in Chinese that he had singed with a sham hiring agency in Atlanta, and the agency sent him to the Chinese restaurant to work My friend called the Department of Labor to investagate the restaurant, and nothing was done.The Honduran juvinile wound up in a safe house.
My next step was to contact Covenanthouse, which is an organization that claims to help victims of Human Trafficking, and they put me in contact with 2 ICE agents and later with an agent from the FBI. As I was providing information to the agents, they were too busy following me around to atually investagate the restaurant. The FBI agent took off his coat to show me the handgun that was strapped to his waste, and the ICE agents came to my house and checked out my web browser to see where I was going on the internet. They also told me that if I told anyone that I was providing them with information, they would have to " treat me differently " , which I took as a threat. Then they left my house and raided the restaurant. They arrested 5 undocumented workers, 2 adult Chinese females, 2 adult Hispanic males and 1 juvinile Hispanic female.Also, no charges were filed against the owner nor the manager.The agents stated that they couldn't prove that any Human Trafficking or forced labor was taking place at the restaurant, nor could they prove that the owner and manager knowingly hired undocumented workers.
Since the ICE raid took place. I've had 3 former employees of the Chinese restaurant ask me for a job. All of them are students at the local University, 1 Chinese male, 1 Chinese female and 1 Thai female. All 3 of them told me straight up that they wern't allowed to work off campus, and the Chinese students asked me to hire them and pay them " under the table " . Of course I respectfully refused and I advised them to come back once they obtained the documents that are required for the I-9 form. The Chinese female was a bit outspoken, and she had a good command of English, so I decided to quiz her about the working conditions at the Chinese restaurant. She told me that both she and her boyfriend were fired from the restaurant because the owner hired 2 Mexican boys for less money. She also told me that the Mexican boys wern't allowed to eat while on the job, and she would sneak food to them because they were pale, weak and hungry.
All 3 of these students as well as the 2 Mexican boys worked at the restaurant after the ICE raid. I reported this to the ICE agents, and of course they did nothing. The restaurant is still open for buisness and still up to their old ways.
This story is being repeated throughout our country each day, and ICE is doing very little about it. I as an American taxpayer am outraged ! These Federal Agents work for us for Christ's sake, and they aren't doing their job. As a result of their lack of responsibility, people are being abused and our country is heading towards slavery again. I thought that slavery was abolished in 1865 , but it's still alive and well here in 2006.