Police walk into a shady club full of women “dancers,” including at least one minor, being paid next to nothing, forced to make up selling quotas with sex acts, without proper immigration documentation. They arrest the 81 women and aim most toward deportation proceedings, while the club is free to hire replacement dancers and continue its illegal and exploitative business practices. The club is obviously happy, and the police are happy, because they get to claim usefulness with a mass arrest. The only people not happy are the women. Oh, and people who care about sex trafficking.
A recent raid on Club 907 in Los Angeles was ostensibly to investigate club management’s illegal behavior, as Lauren Markem points out on Immigrant Rights, it ended up being nothing more than an excuse for an immigration raid, which law enforcement would not have been allowed to conduct. The people arrested as “criminals” were the dancers, while the patrons were sent home, and the club management left free to hire replacement dancer, despite police uncovering cocaine, unauthorized alcohol, and evidence of illegal prostitution.
As Amanda Kloer writes on End Human Trafficking, this incident gives off clear red flags for sex trafficking. The 17-year-old missing girl, first off, cannot be a criminal, because of her age, and is automatically a sex trafficking victim if engaged in prostitution. And an illegal brothel front full of vulnerable undocumented women kept as essential slaves because the “owe” the club a certain amount of money each night before they can get paid, women who have no idea of their rights in this country or ability to escape the forced labor or sex, should inspire police to charge management with human trafficking like a red flag in front of a bull.
Unfortunately, it’s far easier for police to pursue an open-and-shut case of immigration violations against dozens of exploited women than to look into the probable human trafficking violations and find some real criminals: the people who enslaved and exploited immigrant women for forced labor and sex. That might require some actual investigative work on their part, rather than munching donuts as they file the dreaded immigration infractions. But sex trafficking comprises one of the top crimes that we want to be devoting resources to stopping.
Tell L.A. police to stop arresting victims and start investigating traffickers by signing this petition. Ignoring modern-day slavery and sex trafficking just isn’t acceptable.
Photo credit: billsophoto