There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.
Pasi was brought from Indonesia to the USA with her niece for domestic work by a family who promised to pay her $150 a month. Pasi never received this money and was forced to work for long hours with no pay for two and a half years. Eventually Pasi went to the police who took her away from her traffickers, but with no shelter for trafficked people available Pasi was forced to spend the night in prison. The next day a case manager from California Against Slavery and Human Trafficking came to pick her up and took Pasi to a shelter.
I’m Pasi, and I’m from Indonesia. I coming here with my niece. Someone brought me here to work in America.
Well, a family bring me here, and I work for them always long hours. And then said they pay me $150 a month, but I never received the money. My niece same thing. I stayed here two and a half years. So I became a trafficking victim.
First thing was I wrote a letter to a neighbor, but the neighbor never responded. I can’t take it anymore, so I wrote letter to police. So police take me away from that place, and they take my niece away from the other place. The first time I didn’t know any English, so the first time I wrote the letter, I just wrote a few words because I didn’t know how. After, I started looking through children’s books and dictionary and see how to use the words. From those, I wrote the letter. I kept looking and looking for three nights. Then the police take me away and go to the police offices. I stayed there like a whole day, then the police tried to match my handwriting to that letter. They asked me if I wrote this letter; I said no because I’m scared. I didn’t know what to say. My heart was beating.
Then one police asked me to write ABC, so then they know I wrote the letter because they matched the handwriting. Then they asked if I wrote the letter. I said yes. I understand I’m making them crazy, but I’m scared.
They took me to the jail. They said, “You’re not going to jail, but you’ll have to stay here.” There was no other place for me. They tried to make me not scared, but that whole night I’m thinking that the whole world is falling. [Laughs.]
Now I was scared … we’re not sleeping a whole night. Now they’re taking me to the fingerprints and then taking picture. I didn’t understand property, you know: hold my bag, my things, my clothes. I didn’t understand. Police say, “Take your property.” I didn’t understand. They say, “Take your things with you.” I said okay. I had to wear the jail clothes and everything. I stayed there the whole night.
Then finally we stay all day in there; then tomorrow night they take me to central jail, then to another jail in Santa Ana and another jail. I don’t remember how many days. Maybe twenty?
At that time, CAST had no shelter, no Indonesia translators. From the jail, one day we supposed to go to Indonesia. CAST case manager come in. I didn’t know them. I didn’t trust them. The case manager gave me the card with the office phone number. I was about to go back to Indonesia, but I have no money, no clothes. I think people won’t understand and won’t believe me. Then one day I go to sign the ticket back to Indonesia. I start crying. The police were ten of them are all around. I say, “No, I’m not going home. I cry. I asked them to call CAST. The agent called the case manager to pick me up. Finally, she come around 9:00 P.M. and took me to Good Shepherd shelter. I stayed there six months. I was only supposed to stay there three months. Then I move to Alexandria House for one year. Now I have my own apartment and work permit and my ID.
I enjoy working with the caucus because they help us, and we are supporting one and another, and we’re working to make the world better. A caucus meeting is really good for me because I learn a lot from one another.
I want to learn more. I want to learn because from the beginning my whole life I never learn anything, especially in school. The case manager pushes me to go to school, and thank goodness. I had to walk so far to go to school, but I went.
I don’t have one [a green card] yet, but I have T-visa on extension. I think they’re waiting on me to get a green card. I’m exciting. I’m happy for everyone who already get it.
Well, I can tell someone that when the boss not home, whenever you doing what you’re doing, watch the TV so you know how to use money or where to go for help. To feel independent or try as much as you can to be free. I didn’t understand anything. Zero. No English. So you must learn. From then, you can get your help.
If you see someone in the situation, when you watch TV or when you have a magazine or whatever, then try to change their life. People get more blessings when you’re helping one another.
That is really hard to end because it is really big, especially people who want to come to America to make a better life. It’s very hard to make that stop, but I hope that other people can learn, and the lawmaker can make a changing, and we can make that happen to stop them.
I want people to support us. This is changing my life and my needs. I hope that people understand and can help us.
If people read the book, then they must understand what the situation is. Number one, they must open their mind and be understanding. Please help and try to help those people. Maybe your neighbor or your apartment neighbor—if you know that these things are happening, you need to make a help.
Myself. First thing, I am very proud of myself because I learn so many things. How to speak English. From CAST, they support me and make me proud and understanding and a better life. So thank you—I cannot forget for one second or one minute about CAST, and they make me so proud. Especially when I am happy. Sometimes I am happy, but I start cry. The whole thing combined make me happy and proud and mad.
Without CAST, I’d be gone in Indonesia.
When we see each other, everybody really cares.
Narrative as found in Laura T. Murphy Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives