My name is Gilda Merlot, formerly known as Maya Morena. I am a 26 year old sex worker, I am an undocumented immigrant from Trujillo, Honduras, and I am one of the child migrants that was able to get DACA. I was one of the sex workers involved with the FIRST EVER Sex Worker Giving Circle for Third Wave Fund. I currently work for Red Canary Song that represents migrant sex workers, Red Light Reader, and I’m part of committee for the DSA’s resolution #53: Support for the Decriminalization of Sex Work. I am blown away by the proposal of the Community Safety And Health Amendment Act Of 2019. Thank you so much to Anita Bonds, David Grosso, Brianne Nadeau, Robert White Jr., and Charles Allen for listening to the marginalized and unjustly criminalized in our society. I will not forget your bravery, and your defiant stand FOR the people’s liberation.

As I write to you on Halloween night, I am sitting drinking my Budweiser, reading a 1912 book[1] called “Sale of the Intoxicating Liquors”. On page 255 (pg. 257 if you download the free book from the link)

“A new conscience and an ancient evil “; there is a chapter on social control, and then a subheading afterwards entitled “Alcohol, the indispensable vehicle of the white-slave traffic.” In March, 1912, McClure’s Magazine, under the title “A new con science and an ancient evil — social control,” Jane Addams says: ALCOHOL THE INDISPENSABLE VEHICLE OF THE WHITE-SLAVE TRAFFIC. Another humanitarian movement from which assistance will doubtless come to the crusade against the social evil is the great movement against alcoholism, with its recent revival in every civilized country of the world. A careful scientist has called alcohol the Indispensable vehicle of the business transacted by the white-slave traders and has assorted that without its use this trade could not long continue.

*bold font my own highlighting

Jane Addams, like most people of the era believed in popular conspiracy theories that were developed during the times. The idea of an “organized” effort or “organized crime” to destroy Western civilization, through the “trafficking” aka bringing in of “immorality” and “criminal activity”, by inferior colored and poor immigrants from Southern, Eastern Europe, and China. The White Slave Traffic was the modern-day version of sex trafficking, and many believed it was caused by urbanization, poverty, alcohol, integration, and immigration of different immigrants. Some extremists even believed that the Irish, Turkish, Hispanics, and Chinese were controlled by “the Jews” as a plot to destroy the pure white race like modern day QAnon conspiracy theorists. I would recommend starting at pg. 389 (or 391 if you download the link I gave you) to read testimony by workers who in their desperation to get fair wages and a 8 hour work day, were willing to throw alcohol drinking workers, and alcohol workers (eg. Bartenders) under the bus. On page 396 (pg 398 in the downloaded book) you’ll notice one of the first places the government went after (on recommendation) was hotels. They refused to sell alcohol in hotels, much like how the DHS, FBI, Police, and Polaris are currently targeting sex workers in hotels. Below you’ll find an image I took while at work, of a poster from a hotel. Hotels spend millions on posting these signs in their hotel rooms and training their employees to call authorities (without extra pay). This does not make me feel safe, and I can see very visibly who they are intended to protect. It’s not to protect people like me, or people like my parents on TPS (Temporary Protected Status) who are a permanent temporary worker class, or my fellow workers of all kinds. The true victim of this “trafficking slavery” is an imaginary middle class or wealthy girl. She’s a skinny and beautiful white girl between 5 – 17 years old who had been kidnapped by a evil greedy Middle Eastern, Russian, Mexican cartel type of person to sell them in an underground “auction block”, and give them “slave branding” (aka a tattoo) to start their life as a sex slave.

On May 18, 1904, there was the UN International Agreement for the suppression of the “White Slave Traffic”, today we have the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime with their 3 protocols. The Mann Act (The White Slave Traffic Act of 1910) was never abolished and the morality clauses of the Chinese Exclusion Act are still in place. There was also the Page Act that banned Chinese women (and ended open borders) since they couldn’t prove to be “moral” enough for the US, which led to the Chinese Exclusion of 1882 and Alien Contract Labor laws of 1885 and 1887. There was the banning of “coolie labor” to protect “free white labor” on a state and eventually federal level. The idea was that immigrants fit into several categories (A) low skilled, low waged, uneducated, unable to assimilate to the superior culture, moochers, stealing from free white citizen/legal labor (B) criminals bringing in *organized* crime, evil, and destroying the moral fabric of the family and the country (C) vulnerable, helpless, exploited victims, that were “slave-like” people or literally slaves. In fact, the California Constitution of 1879, article XIX, section 4 states:

The presence of foreigners ineligible to become citizens of the United States is declared to be dangerous to the well-being of the State, and the Legislature shall discourage their immigration by all the means within its power. Asiatic coolieism is a form of human slavery, and is forever prohibited in this State, and all contracts for coolie labor shall be void. All companies or corporations, whether formed in this country or any foreign country, for the importation of such labor, shall be subject to such penalties as the Legislature may prescribe.”

*bold font is my highlighting

The FBI was originally the Bureau of Investigations and they gained federal power with the Mann Act, creating a federal census of prostitutes throughout the US, and deporting migrants and mixed blood sex workers from the US. Through the Asian/Chinese “head tax” [2]  they were able to get funding for the federal immigration system we have today:

Congress continued to exert Federal control over immigration with the Act of March 2, 1895, which promoted the Office of Immigration to the Bureau of Immigration and changed the agency head’s title from Superintendent to Commissioner-General of Immigration. The Act of June 6, 1900, consolidated immigration enforcement by assigning enforcement of both Alien Contract Labor laws and Chinese Exclusion laws to the Commissioner-General.

Because most immigration laws of the time sought to protect American workers and wages, an Act of February 14, 1903, transferred the Bureau of Immigration from the Treasury Department to the newly created Department of Commerce and Labor. An “immigrant fund” created from collection of immigrants’ head tax financed the Immigration Service until 1909, when Congress replaced the fund with an annual appropriation.

           *bold font is my highlighting

The Trafficking (T Visa) Visa is a 4 year temporary work program, that requires that victims to work with authorities and get a letter from police of compliance in helping them put someone behind bars. This is revocable at any time. Just like some migrants have been helping the police/FBI track down MS13 members who forced them to join and commit illegal activity, they were deported once they gave all the information they could. I have an aunt that worked with her friends to get a trafficking visa against a restaurant employer who forced them into sexual acts. This is how our system defines “justice”, despite that fact that most victims of abuse state that housing is their biggest obstacle  to leaving their abusers.

All our “nonprofits” FAIL at addressing the housing issue, despite being ANNOYING, AND UNWANTED “authorities” and “experts” on our lives. I see non profit “experts” the way I see police – a clear sign of SYSTEMIC FAILURE. In fact, many non profits work with (and/or) TRAIN police. We don’t want “social enterprises” or “economic empowerment” that coerce or force sex workers, or those with drug use/addiction into labor for a “non profit company”. We don’t want “free” housing, counseling services with law enforcement connections that forces us into labor (thereby) not making it actually “free”.

Most violence is within one’s own race, someone that we personally know (eg. Family, friends etc) and yet we continue to portray abusers as strangers that we can (justifiably) kill or imprison forever. The criminal justice system had been created on the backs and justification of “victims/survivors” WITHOUT OUR CONSENT. Most victims of abuse DO NOT want to go through the “criminal ‘justice’ system”, most of US DO NOT want to go through YEARS OF LAWYER FEES, YEARS OF TRAUMA to get someone in court (if at all), and to imprison them. This often leads to possible death on our end, and a permanent destruction of our families and community. All of this perpetrated from the state, and “non profits” who have privatized social welfare to claim they are “victim centered” while treating us like we’re “crazy” and “irrational” for our mistrust, and our usual refusal to deal with years of trauma, loss of money/safety, and heartbreak in a “justice system” that has a long track record of letting down domestic violence victims, rape victims, child molestation victims, and the least amount of persecution numbers – ‘trafficking charges’. Below I included the screenshot of the trafficking visa numbers for 2008 – 2019 (remember Kevin Bales who helped create the UN narrative, claims there’s millions of victims, and we spent billions of dollars towards “trafficking” efforts, this is the best we got). I invite you to go to this link to check out the latest FBI numbers: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/additional-data-collections/human-trafficking

[3] image citation

Simply go through the data tables to look at different data. To those who oppose the decriminalization measure, I say, you had over a century to have full control over these issues. You have failed at fixing or even decreasing the most basic of needs of the human beings in the US, or even within DC. We had enough of your tyranny disguised as “help” or “victim centered approach”. We want basic housing rights, healthcare, and other basic needs WITHOUT THE CRIMINALIZATION. This of course would eliminate most “non profit” jobs.

I’m a 26 year old girl, I have the time and energy to fight back FOR ZERO MONEY. I HAVE MORALS, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT JUSTICE REALLY MEANS. I DON’T NEED THE FUNDING THAT THE FBI, DHS, AND THESE *GOOD FOR NOTHING* “NONPROFITS” GET TO HAVE.

If the United States of America decides they want a REPEAT OF HISTORY by banning Hispanic immigrants, and BANNING THE ENTIRE SEX INDUSTRY, (LIKE THEY DID WITH CHINESE LABOR AND ALCOHOL) I want you ALL to know this: I WILL FIGHT YOU…. UNTIL MY LAST DYING BREATHE. I PLAN TO EXPOSE THIS MOVEMENT FOR EXACTLY WHAT IT IS. I PLAN TO DESTROY THIS WHITE SUPREMACIST MOVEMENT MORE COMPLETELY THAN PROHIBITION AND THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT.

I’m tired of being called a “slave”, or an unknowing “trafficking victim” to my face. The “slaves” are perfectly capable of liberating themselves. It’s funny that these conversations about trafficking and slavery are devoid of talks of reparations, the prison industrial complex, the non profit industrial complex, or the fact that criminalized people do not have voting rights in this country.  We live in country that passed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which gave reparations TO SLAVE OWNERS.  Ronald Reagan tried to “end demand” for undocumented immigrants with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, criminalizing the buying/hiring of our labor. I crossed the border when I was around 5 years old and was put in a cage by Border Patrol. Here we are today, with less rights and more stigma than ever before. Because of something that shouldn’t have been criminalized when I was 5 years old, I will probably never have citizenship, or voting rights. The DHS conflates smuggling with trafficking and has used it to justify family separation. As the narrative goes ‘ the parents, family, or their community could be traffickers selling them off. ‘ The best thing the state can do is deny  the entry of these possible trafficking and slavery victims, make it harder or near impossible to gain any legal status, or if all else fails, cage them up. Tim Ballard, CEO of Operation Underground Rail Road was just appointed to the Private-Public Council to End Human Trafficking by the White House. He wants to end the child sex slave trade by building a wall on our southern border.

I beg you to make the persecution stop.

I am not a slave. I am a human being. And I want the freedom and rights that have been denied to me.  That alone, should be enough. I want to go to sleep at night without the news and constant fear that my father, my cousins, my family, my community are being rounded up, shot and abused by police, imprisoned, or deported. I want to work and live without the constant fear of police and ICE. That’s the real horror of this country.

I’m asking the committee of judiciary and public safety to vote affirmatively for this bill, I’m begging the full council to pass it.

Sincerely,

Gilda Merlot

 

 

 

[1] Title Sale of Intoxicating Liquors: Hearing Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on the District of Columbia, United States Senate … on S. 1076, a Bill Making Drunkenness in the District of Columbia a Misdemeanor, and to Provide a Hospital for Inebriates, and for Other Purposes, S. 2046, a Bill to Better Regulate the Traffic in Intoxicating Liquors in the District of Columbia, S. 2309, a Bill to Limit the Number of Saloons in the District of Columbia and to Confine Them to Business Streets, and for Other Purposes. February 26 to March 7, 1912

Author A United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the District of Columbia

Link https://books.google.com/books?id=GLs3AAAAYAAJ

Publisher U.S. Government Printing Office, 1912

[2] Title Origins of the Federal Immigration Service | USCIS

Overview of INS History Early American Immigration Policies Origins of the Federal Immigration Service Origins of the Federal Naturalization Service Mass Immigration and WWI Era of Restri Author A United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the District of Columbia

[3] Gould, Amanda. (2010). From Pseudoscience to Protoscience: Estimating Human Trafficking and Modern Forms of Slavery.